Trail Orioles headed to provincials

Trail AM Ford Orioles pound Cranbrook in final tune-up.

With the B.C. Senior men’s provincial baseball championship on the horizon this coming weekend in Victoria, the Trail AM Ford Orioles got in one final tune-up at Butler Park.

What was billed as best-of-three playoff between Trail and Cranbrook to determine the Kootenay candidate for the provincials, turned into more of a batting practice for the seasoned Oriole squad.

Trail pitched well, hit well and basically shutdown any hope the young Cranbrook squad had of an upset with back-to-back convincing wins on Saturday to secure their provincial trip.

The Orioles scored abbreviated five-inning wins by counts of 10-0 and 12-0 to sweep the series.

“(Cranbrook) is new and got a glimpse of how far they need to come,” said Orioles’ manager/player Jim Maniago.

“They had three hits in two games, all by the same guy and one was a bunt.”

While Cranbrook used the playoff as a learning experience, it was an opportunity for Trail players to fine tune their game ahead of the provincials.

The East Kootenay team failed to produce any offence thanks to the Trail pitching performances by Darrin Kissock and Joel Graf who picked up the wins in the two games.

At the plate, the Orioles provide a hit parade led by home runs from Chris Florko, Brady Glover and Kyle Mace.

“We used it as a tune up, gave everyone some innings and spread things around,” explained Maniago.

The team is expecting a much tougher task this weekend when they head to the provincial capital for a shot at a B.C. Title.

Trail is in a division with Prince George, one of two entries by the host Victoria, and Langley, the defending B.C. Champs.

The other division features a second Victoria team, Nanaimo, Burnaby and Kamloops.

Maniago likes his team’s draw but admits the club needs success early to move on to the playoff round.

“We are down a bunch of bodies so we’ll be in tough if we have to play a lot of games.  We do have a solid group going though so if we manage to win early and give ourselves a chance we could be in the mix. Our pitching will hold us in as long as we play solid defense.”

Handicapping the field, Maniago gives the nod to perennial favorites Langley and Burnaby and one of the Victoria teams, which boasts a potent lineup

“Langley is the defending champs and are heading to Nationals in three weeks. Burnaby has reloaded and are pretty solid and will be picking up good players from the other Lower Mainland teams.”

He cited Victoria’s home field advantage and crowd support as an edge over other teams.

“Nanaimo is a little unknown what they will come with, they’ve had a tough year but this is close to home and if they have everyone there are the best hitting team in the province and can be dangerous. “Kamloops isn’t as good as last year when they ended up second but are scrappy and have good pitching and will surprise teams in close games.

“Hopefully we can stay in the mix and give ourselves a chance. It’s a tough tournament to win but anything can happen.”

Trail’s first game is Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. when they face Prince George. It’s the first of two games on Saturday. Trail faces Victoria at 3 p.m. The Orioles will play Langley on Sunday morning.  The top two teams in each division advance to the playoff round.