The Trail AM Ford Orioles’ Dallas Calvin clobbered a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, then closed the game to propel the O’s to a 10-8 victory over the Northwest Honkers in the final match of the four-game weekend series at Butler Park on Sunday.
The win ensured a split for the home side, a positive result considering the Orioles mustered an unlikely comeback after being down 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning of the final match.
“Against a good team like that, you always want to win every game, but a split we’re happy with that,” said Orioles’ player/coach Jim Maniago.
The Honkers got to O’s starter Scott Rhynold early plating one in the first and three in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Yet, Kellen Jones and Kyle Mace came on in relief in the middle innings keeping the Honkers off the board until the Oriole bats came alive in the seventh.
Trail first baseman James Oliver came into the game to start the inning and after making a nice grab on a drilled ball down the line, he started the offence rolling with a lead off single up the middle. A pair of errors to the Honkers’ second baseman loaded the bases, and Jeff Sidey came up and slapped a single to right to get the Orioles on the board. Joey Underwood then ripped a double to centre to score two more and make it 4-3 before Calvin singled home both Underwood and Sidey to give the Orioles a shortlived 5-4 lead.
The Honkers would not go quietly as right fielder Dalton Gervais drove a pitch over the centre-field fence to even the score at 5-5.
The O’s would regain the lead, however. After Kyle Paulson led off with a walk, Maniago executed perfectly advancing Paulson to second on a bunt. Jaret Conway singled to left to put runners on the corners. Sidey would score Paulson on a single to right, and with men on first and second, Underwood drove a ball deep to centre, doubling off the wall to score Conway, and give Trail a 7-5 edge.
“It was a pretty good effort from everybody,” said Maniago. “Today we subbed some guys in and the game turned around. Everybody seemed to contribute, it was great.”
Calvin then seemed to put the game to bed when he stepped up and belted the first pitch over the right-centre field wall to take a 10-5 lead.
“I was sitting back on a curve ball, that’s what I thought I was going to get,” said Calvin. “It was a lefty-lefty match up and that’s what he threw me so I got lucky.”
Yet the Honkers would not go quietly. With Calvin pitching in his third consecutive game, the Seattle squad scored three quick runs to cut the lead to 10-8. A single up the middle from Honker centre-fielder Gabriel Rochon would bring the tying run, Gervais, to the plate.
Gervais had evened the score in the eighth on a solo home run off of Calvin, but this time it was the Orioles’ pitcher that bore down and struck the Honker out on a 2-and-2 pitch for the victory.
“I actually pitched last night and this morning, so it was the third game I pitched this weekend. I was getting tired but I knew we had a five-run lead so if I could hold them to a few, I knew it would be all good,” said Calvin.
It was a great effort from a team that had played close to seven hours of baseball that day.
Clutch plays from Oliver at first base, and Sidey on an acrobatic catch in deep centre in the eighth; gutsy pitching from the weary arms of Rhynold, Jones, Mace, and Calvin, and a bevy of brilliant plays by shortstop Underwood in the late going sustained the lead, and topped off an exciting weekend of PIL action.
Underwood, who plays baseball for Bryan College in Tennessee, drove in three runs going 2-for-5 with two doubles, to go along with several key plays at short.
“It feels great to comeback against a team like this,” said Underwood, a Fruitvale native. “When we are looking for wins to stay in this league, these are big wins, very big wins.”
The Honkers won the first game of the series 11-0, in a game that was scoreless until the sixth inning. The Orioles’ Paulson was tossing a one-hitter until the wheels fell off and the Honkers put up seven in the sixth.
But the Orioles replied, taking the second match 9-7 in a game that lasted two days because of an unexpected shower Saturday night.
Due to a late start in the opening game, the second match did not get underway until 9:30 p.m. and two hours later with just over an inning to play, the Butler Park sprinklers opened up, spraying the players, and postponing the remainder of the match until the following morning.
When the water settled, Darrin Kissock pitched five-and-two-thirds innings giving up six hits, and four earned runs, while striking out five for the victory. Calvin came on in the sixth and earned the save as the O’s found their swing, knocking starter Bobby Wassmann out of the game in the fourth, after scoring nine runs on 10 hits.
Maniago went 2-for-4, Kellen Jones 1-for-2 with two RBI, Calvin 2-for-4, Kyle Mace 2-for-3 with a double, Sidey 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Paulson 1-for-3 with two RBI.
The Honkers won the third match 5-2, despite being out-hit by the Orioles 12-6. Rhynold pitched five innings giving up just five hits on five earned runs, while walking three and striking out three. Underwood and Maniago both went 3-for-4 at the plate, while Mace was 2-for-3.
Aside from the first game, the Orioles managed to match the Honkers offensively, defensively, and, on the mound. With some consistency and returning veterans, the rest of the PIL season should be emminently entertaining.
“The three-run homerun – we haven’t had too many of those and that was huge, and we seem to have a few guys in the line up now with a little pop that can do that,” said Maniago. “Conner (Jones) will be back this week and (Chris) Florko should be off the disabled list this week so add a few more guys, so we’re building, we’re building. It was big . . . so that was good to get the split, now we’ll go down and beat them in their park.”