The Trail AM Ford Orioles may not have won it all, but the team had some great results at the B.C. Senior Men’s Baseball championships, that included making it into the playoff round and securing the provincial tournament for Trail’s Butler Park next year.
Baseball B.C. Awarded the 2014 provincial championship to Trail at the AGM on Friday in Victoria.
As per the normal rotation, the tournament was scheduled to take place in the Lower Mainland, but for a variety of reasons, no teams could accommodate it.
“It was a little up in the air, and so we put ourselves in there, and everyone agreed to let us do it, so we’re really excited,” said Trail player/coach Jim Maniago. “We’re thinking with the team we had this year, and some guys coming back, and a few potential additions, we’re really hoping to take a run at it next year at home.”
The last time the Orioles won the B.C. Championship was in Kelowna in 2008, and despite a good start in this year’s championship, the O’s came up short.
“Overall we ended up fourth which is pretty good. Like I said, with what we had, we were pretty happy.”
The O’s were missing key players such as shortstop Joey Underwood, pitcher Scott Rhynold, and infielder/pitcher Conner and Kellen Jones.
“If we had the full team we had in Kelowna at the tournament it might have been a different story, but the guys who went played hard and played well.”
The Orioles won their first two games of the championship: a 4-3 victory over the Prince George Grays on Saturday morning, followed by a 9-1 pasting of Victoria that night ensuring them of a playoff spot.
However, the O’s would run out of steam dropping an 8-1 game to eventual provincial champion Langley on Sunday. Kyle Mace added the only offence for the O’s with a solo home run.
“We knew our only hope of winning was to go 3-0. We were in there with Langley; after the third inning it was 0-0, but (pitcher) Dallas (Calvin) took a line drive off the leg and had to come out.”
The Orioles would then face the other 2-1 team in Burnaby Sunday night to see who would move onto the semifinal game. But the O’s bats were silenced by Bulldog pitcher Mitch Hodge who went six innings, giving up just four hits in the 5-0 win.
In the opening match of the tournament, the O’s Jordan Kissock and Corey Smith each knocked in two runs to pace Trail to the 4-3 win over Prince George.
The Orioles Calvin followed that up with five RBIs against the Victoria Mavericks in the 9-1 victory. Calvin went 3-for-4, while Jim Maniago and Scotty Davidson each scored three runs. Trail starter Jordan Kissock went the distance, ceding just one Maverick run on four hits while striking out eight.
In the end, it was the Langley Sr. Blaze repeating as champions with an 8-5 win over the Kamloops Sun Devils and a roster that includes Trail natives Pat Brown and Cam Strachan.
Brown had pitched the Devils into the final by going the distance in an 8-5 victory over the Burnaby Bulldogs in the semifinal match Monday morning. Kamloops needed to take two games from Langley to seize the championship and after winning the first game 4-3, they looked poised to do so.
“They are gritty, they were pretty short-benched too actually, but they had some pretty amazing performances from a couple of their guys,” added Maniago.
Devils pitcher Lee Ingram threw 18 innings in two days, including throwing 170 pitches in the final two games against Langley.
Kamloops seized an early 3-0 lead, but the Blaze fired back tying the game 5-5, to set up Joe Germaine’s game winning solo home run, his second of the game, in the sixth. Scott Webster would follow that with a two-run bomb to make the final 8-5.
The Orioles had a decent season playing in the Pacific International League as well as various tournaments and exhibition matches, going 18-20 in 38 games, including a third place finish in the Kelowna Canada Day Blast tournament.
“We had a lot of new faces,” said Maniago. “I mean the young guys really came along and ended up being really key guys for us, so it was a good year. . . we were competitive so there’s a lot of reasons to be excited for next year.”
The Orioles will host the 2014 B.C. Senior Men’s Baseball championship at Butler Park on Aug. 1-4.