Senior baseball at Butler brings out B.C.’s best

It was a tremendous weekend for baseball at Butler Park where hundreds of fans came out to cheer on the hometown AM Ford Orioles.

On the final day of the B.C. Senior Baseball Championships, the Langley Sr. Blaze beat the Kamloops Sun Devils, forcing a third game of the day for the Blaze.

After winning the Monday morning semifinal game against the Coquitlam Angels, 4-2, the Blaze – last year’s champions – beat the Sun Devils with a score of 1-0 in the opening match of the final. However, because Kamloops had beaten Langley 3-2 in the opening playoff game, the Blaze needed to beat the Sun Devils twice to take the championship.

It was a pitcher’s duel throughout with the Sun Devils Lee Ingram and the Blaze’s Shane Krafmer shutting down opposing hitters through six innings. It wasn’t until the top of seven when the Blaze would finally get to Ingram.

Third baseman Bob Foerster led off with a single, and after Riley McDonald laid down a sacrifice bunt to put him on second, bat catcher Clayton Howell would put the winning run on third base with a single to right. Short stop Louis Boyd then came to the plate and delivered the run-scoring single to put the Blaze up for good, for  Krafmer came in and set Kamloops down in order with three strike outs in the bottom half of the inning for the victory.

The Blaze’s win at Butler Park forced another matchup between the team and the Sun Devils on Monday afternoon to determine which team would be the tournament champion, however the game was still in progress at press time.

The Trail AM Ford Orioles meanwhile opened the tournament facing defending champion Langley Blaze on Friday. The Blaze would jump out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Orioles Dallas Calvin would shut them down the rest of the way, throwing 120 pitches, butthe O’s offence was also shut down as Trail dropped the game 3-1 to Langley.

The next game for the Orioles against the Prince George Grays was arguably the most exciting and desperate in the tournament.

The Grays went up 3-0 in the fourth inning but the Orioles would claw their way back and tie it 3-3 in the sixth inning, to force extras.

In the bottom of the ninth, Prince George threatened with two out and two men on, when the Grays batter hammered the ball to left centre. It looked like a sure double to end the game and deny Trail a playoff spot, but the O’s centre fielder David Profilli streaked across the field and made an incredible diving catch to end the inning and preserve the tie.

The Orioles Chris Florko would bring home the winning run in the top of the 10th with a double, and Jordan Kissock would set the Gray’s down in the bottom half for the victory.

Trail then faced a must-win game against Kelowna on Sunday, and after taking a 7-0 lead in the first inning, the O’s would roll to a 15-10 win, and a berth in the playoff with a 2-1 record.

The Orioles faced a tough Coquitlam team Sunday night, however, and with fatigue and limited arms, they fell to the Lower Mainland team 10-0.

Tournament chair for this past weekend’s tournament, Trail’s Wayne Florko, says he couldn’t have asked for a better tournament, and every he has talked to agrees.

“I think things have gone really well,” he said while the field was getting prepped for the last game of the tournament. “I think that your best indicator is talking to people and the people have given us some very good, positive feedback. It’s been great.”

Florko was particularly proud of the players visiting Trail, their game play and their attitudes during the tournament.

“(We saw) some really good ball games,” he said. “All of the athletes that come in are really fine young men. They represent their hometowns well and are great ambassadors for the communities they come from. That’s the highlight for me. I just want to see some good baseball played by some really exceptional athletes.”

The tournament ran from Aug. 1 to 4 with teams from Prince George, Kelowna, Coquitlam, Cranbrook, Victoria, Langley and Kamloops visiting the Trail Orioles.

Scores for the final game in the Langley-Kamloops series were unavailable at press time. Keep an eye out in the Sports section of the Wednesday edition of the Times for final scores from the tournament.