The Trail AM Ford Orioles get set to host Pacific International League rival the Northwest Honkers this weekend in it’s final homestand at Butler Park.
The four-game set against the Seattle-based team on Saturday and Sunday will likely be the Os toughest challenge so far this season.
“The Honkers will be good,” said Orioles GM Jim Maniago. “They are always stocked full of college and ex-pro guys, lots of new faces according to their roster but we know several of their pitchers that are really good and they are back.”
The Orioles will likely face fifth-year Honker and starter Jason Salers and Bobby Wassmann along the way. Salers, who, like Trail’s Chris Kissock, pitched in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, was named the 2012 and 2013 All PIL starting pitcher, while Wassmann, also a five-year Honker veteran, pitched two complete games this season in two starts, ceding one unearned run, along with 12 strikeouts, and 0.00 ERA.
The Honkers are 4-5 in PIL action and are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Studs after a pair of wins over the Burnaby College Bulldogs. The Honkers, as well as the Studs, competed in the National Baseball Congress World Series last year and are bent on a return.
“The Honkers are looking to get back there this year so these league games are really important for them,” said Maniago. “It should be fun.”
The Orioles played a home and away series with the Kelowna Jays earlier this month and a pair against the Coquitlam Angels, but it is the first action the O’s will see in the PIL this year, and while they will travel to Seattle next month for more PIL action, it is their last home games to be played at Butler Park.
The O’s were short-staffed in last week’s exhibition tournament at Butler, due to personal and work commitments, but without graduation ceremonies this weekend’s team should field a better contingent.
“We never seem to have a full roster with everyone in the same place but we should be pretty solid,” says Maniago. “It will be a good test for us too and our younger guys who may not have faced this level of competition.”
The winner of the PIL goes to the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kansas July 24-Aug. 8. The Studs were the runner up in last year’s World Series and the 2013 Champion. The Orioles, however, will be vying for the provincial title in Kamloops Aug. 1-4.
“These are our last home games of the year so hopefully people will get out and watch. It will be good ball.”
Games go at 4 and 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Trail AA Orioles will also be in action this weekend as the O’s open their Washington State American Legion season on Saturday with a doubleheader against Lewis and Clark. While the AA Orioles have yet to play a game, Lewis and Clark have played six games and are in seventh place with a 2-4 record in the AA WSABL National League standings.
The games go at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Butler.