The Trail AM Ford Orioles earned a berth to the playoffs of the 2019 BC Senior Men’s Baseball Championships with two big wins over Victoria and Nanaimo, however, their quest for the provincial title came to an end Sunday night when they lost 8-4 to the Kamloops Sun Devils in the quarter-final.
“This tournament is a lot of strategy and we knew getting to the quarter-finals was a big deal,” said Orioles player/coach Chris Kissock. “We had our pitching set up for that, and we just got beat by a better team yesterday.”
Top seeds Burnaby Bulldogs and Coquitlam Angels looked on a collision course to meet in the final from the opening day when each team won their respective games against Trail and Kamloops by identical 14-4 scores.
The two teams cruised through the round robin going 3-0 with Burnaby earning Number-1 seed in Division A and the Angels the top seed in Div. B. The Bulldogs booked a berth into the semifinal with wins over Victoria, 7-1, and Nanaimo, 6-4, while the Angels beat Ladysmith 9-7 and the Victoria Mavericks Blue squad 26-1.
In the first semifinal game, Burnaby defeated the Ladysmith Pilots 12-2, but it was the Sun Devils who shocked the Angels on Monday morning in the second semifinal matchup.
With Coquitlam’s number-1 pitcher, Shawn Schaefer, playing right field, the Sun Devils jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second inning then added four more in the fifth for the 7-1 victory and a berth into the final.
The final match between Burnaby and Kamloops was played Monday afternoon but the result was unavailable at press time.
Playoffs: The men’s provincial championships began its playoff round in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
Division A’s third seed Victoria Mavericks Red team faced the no. 2 seed from Div. B Ladysmith on Sunday in the opening quarter-final match, while Div. A’s no. 2-seed Orioles took on the Div. B third-seed Kamloops Sun Devils in the nightcap.
The Mavericks jumped out to a an 11-1 lead, but the Pilots stormed back cutting the lead to 12-8 heading into their final at bat in the bottom half of the seventh inning.
Ladysmith, who went 2-1 in the round robin, put the first two runners on. A double scored one run, then the Pilots next batter pounded a three-run dinger to tie the game 12-12. As the crowd’s cheers subsided, the very next batter hit the first pitch over the wall to give the Pilots a walk-off 13-12 win and a berth into today’s semifinal against Burnaby.
For Trail, the quarter-final match began with a big first inning that saw Clayton Howell single in two runs for a 3-1 Orioles lead. But the Sun Devils chipped away tying the game and taking the lead in the third inning, then going up 6-3 on a two-run home run from Taylor van Ham in the fifth.
Starter Jordan Kissock was battling a back injury and the effects took their toll in the late going, as he gave way to cousin Darrin Kissock in the seventh.
“We tried to run him as long as we could, and hoped our bats would pick up the slack,” said Kissock. “But their Kamloops pitcher pitched very well. He settled in after the first inning and he was tough to beat.”
Kamloops scored two more in the seventh while the Orioles added a single in the 8-4 loss. Van Ham went 4-for-4 for the Sun Devils with a home run, a double and two singles. Joey Underwood went 2-for-4 with a double for Trail.
Trail games: After losing their opening match 14-4 to the Burnaby Bulldogs on Friday, Orioles pitcher Scott Rhynold threw 160 pitches and struck out 14 batters in a complete game 9-8 victory over the Victoria Red Mavericks on Saturday.
Trail pitcher Chris Kissock earned the win on the mound on Sunday versus the Nanaimo Coalminers, and was helped by grand slams from Dallas Calvin and Ross St. Jean that propelled the Orioles to a 15-4 mercy rule victory and on to the quarter-final match.
The BC championship showcases the top players in Canada, with Coquitlam and Burnaby winning the past two national championships. This weekend’s competition at Butler Park became intense at times, with controversy, big hits and thrilling plays highlighting the action.
“Every team here can play,” said Kissock. “These Vancouver Island teams and Vancouver teams, and Kamloops, trying to compete with these guys when you’re from a little town like Trail, we can, but it takes a lot to win this tournament.”
The last time Trail hosted the BC Sr. Men’s championship was in 2014, when Kamloops beat Langley in the final.