Orioles heading north to compete for provincial title

The Trail Orioles head out this Friday to the 2012 provincial championship in Prince George.

Jim Maniago has attended enough B.C. senior men’s baseball championships to know he couldn’t handicap the field until he sees what kind of roster each team brings.

And with the 2012 championship set to begin in Prince George on Friday night, the travel distance for many of the competitive teams will take its toll on rosters.

Regardless, Maniago is sure of one thing – it’s always competitive.

The Orioles head our Friday morning for the journey north and, like many teams, won’t have its complete roster.

Missing will be two key components, Connor and Kellen Jones.

“We’ll be thin on pitching so if we have to play six games it could get tough but from what I hear everyone is in the same boat,” said Maniago.

He admitted the trip to Prince George is tough on most teams who need players to take time off work to make the journey.

“Everyone is scrambling a bit,” he explained.

“Other than Langley, who will be stacked, I think everyone will be down from the usual rosters. In that sense it makes the tournament wide open and if we can play well I think we’ll have a chance.

“We won’t have everybody, we’re a bit short handed, it’s just so far to go, but we’re pretty solid.”

The Orioles will have to be solid simply to emerge from its pool to make the playoffs.

The Orioles will compete in a division that includes the Langley Blaze, Nanaimo Coalminers and the Kelowna Jays.

“Langley is the team to beat,” acknowledged Maniago. “We played them at the start of the year and they beat us twice – 3-0 and 8-2 – but we’ve improved since then.

Trail opens the tournament Saturday morning at 8 a.m. against Nanaimo. The team will be back on the field at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday to face Langley.

The Orioles wrap up the round robin Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. against Kelowna.

The playoff round begins Sunday night and concludes with the final on Monday.

The other division features the Burnaby Bulldogs, Kamloops Sun Devils, Prince George Grays and the defending provincial-champion Victoria Mavericks.

The Mavericks will get an extended stay in Prince George. As the 2011 B.C. champions, the team will compete in the 2012 Canadian championships, which will be hosted by Prince George from Aug. 23 to 27.

Kamloops will also be tough. If Nanaimo and Victoria get the right guys there they will be good but it’s a long way from the Island so who knows who they’ll show up with.”

If anything, the provincials will provide a perfect tune-up for the Orioles. Trail heads to the Western Canadian senior men’s baseball championships in Winnipeg from Aug. 23 to 27.