Birds of a feather flocked together for the ninth annual Kelowna Baseball Blast cash tournament on the weekend, but in the end the Trail AM Ford Orioles’ drew a blank.
After a pair of losses to the Kelowna Jays, the Orioles faced the Redbirds from Calgary with the victor advancing to the money round.
The undermanned Trail team found its batting stroke and cashed in eight runs, however, the O’s pitching and defense were uncharacteristically average, as Calgary scored nine to advance to the final round.
“The good news is that we hit better than we have all year,” said Jim Maniago of the Orioles in an email. “The bad news is the rest of our game wasn’t as good as usual. We need to put it all together.”
Kyle Mace went 3 for 4 and Brady Glover was 2 for 3 at the plate to lead the attack.
In all, 16 teams were expected to compete for $15,000 in prize money, but the San Diego Stars withdrew at the last minute due to a health issue with its coach/owner/bus driver.
Without the Stars in its bracket, the O’s played an extra game against the Jays, dropping the first one in a close 12-7 match, before conceding a 10-0 drubbing.
“It was a mean-nothing game for us and I think the guys played it that way . . . No way that should happen against Kelowna,” said Maniago.
For the second time in as many weeks, the O’s again found themselves with a mixed bench, and suffered because of it.
Forced to insert players into unfamiliar positions cost them defensively, and also hurt the O’s normally solid pitching rotation.
“We just don’t have the depth other teams do . . . We know we have some work to do, but hopefully we can finally get some good practices together for the next six weeks and start working on things and improving,” Maniago added.
The O’s Pacific International League rival Seattle Studs beat Nanaimo in the final to win the tournament for the third straight year and pocket a cool $7,000.
Trail is scheduled to play the San Diego Stars in a four-game series starting Friday at Butler Park, but the Stars’ status remains uncertain.