Slow and steady almost wins the race.
The Trail Orioles played a slow and steady game against one of the top U.S. touring teams Monday night at Butler Park, climbing out of an early 4-1 hole to lead 5-4 heading into the ninth, only to lose the cross-border exhibition game 7-5 after a couple of late inning errors.
The Orioles’ steady play did not go unnoticed by San Diego Stars field manager known as Mickey D. He lauded the entire Orioles roster for its “sound fundamentals,” and in particular the pitching of starter Scott Rhynold.
“He was steady and didn’t get rattled when we scored the three runs in the third inning,” he said. “It looked like we were going to run away with the game but he just kept coming and next thing you know they had us down 5-4.”
For a hometown team with local talent—and not going outside the area to bring in big league and college talent—Trail has “quite a community of ballplayers here,” he added.
Playing outside of their regular Pacific International League schedule, the senior men’s team kept the ball in defensively, got the ball back into the infield where it belonged, and made their hits count—including the first Orioles’ hit of the game, a lead off home run by Jesse Rypien in the second inning.
The Orioles added another run midway through the game before they picked up three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Stars on the hot seat.
However, the Stars broke it loose in the ninth inning. They got runners on base with a couple of bunts and, coupled with two infield errors, chalked up three runs for the win.
“I didn’t think that Trail was going to rout us at that point in the eighth … but they hung in there all of the way. It was a good ball game,” said Mickey D.
The win gave the American visitors the first of a two-game series, with the second game late Tuesday evening.
The Trail games were an excellent test for the Stars—all drawn from the collegiate ranks—as they head west for the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament this weekend.
With a 17-9 record in the 12-team, San Diego-based Western Baseball Association, the Stars are a solid club in their own right, qualifying for the 32-team National Baseball Congress World Series later this summer in Wichita, Kan. for the 22nd time in 32 years.
In their last trip to the big dance two years ago, the Stars placed fifth in the nation.
Even with the pedigree of the Stars—spawning ex-major leaguers such as former Atlanta Braves Jacques Jones and Minnesota Twins Marcus Giles—Mickey D. was encouraged by the change he noted in the Trail baseball.
“I’m impressed in the fundamentals of the Trail players. They used to bring U.S. players in, college players, but not anymore. These are hometown, homegrown guys and they are good,” he said. “We have clubs down there (in San Diego) that Trail would beat, I have no doubt. They are that fundamentally sound.”