Greater Trail fans will be treated to some of the best baseball in Canada this weekend.
The Trail AM Ford Orioles are getting set to host the B.C. Senior Men’s Baseball championship at Butler Park on Friday.
Trail will field a strong team of local talent that will compete with seven other teams for the provincial title, with the winning team advancing to the 2015 Baseball Canada National championship in Chatham, N.B.
The Orioles, however, will have their work cut out for them in their opening game Friday evening when they face the Langley Senior Blaze, a team comprised of largely college players and ex-pros.
“That’s going to be a tough one,” said Orioles player/coach Jim Maniago. “They’re the defending champs, they were second in Canada last year and won the nationals the year before.”
The other teams include the 2011 B.C. champion Victora Mavericks, the Prince George Grays, Kelowna Jays, Coquitlam Angels, Kamloops Sun Devils, and the Cranbrook White Sox.
“Coquitlam will have great pitching and they’ll be tough,” said Maniago. “Kamloops was the runner up the last two years and they’re always tough. The thing is everyone is good, there’s not going to be any easy games. Prince George they are always scrappy, and Victoria they have so many guys to choose from there, and so many good ball players; we know Kelowna is good, everyone is tough, but if you ask me the favourites – Langley, Coquitlam, Kamloops will be the ones to watch.”
While the Orioles will miss the likes of Winnipeg Goldeneye pitcher Chris Kissock and twins Connor and Kellen Jones, their rotation wil revolve around a solid core of pitchers in Scott Rhynold, Dallas Calvin, Scott Davidson, Darrin and Jordan Kissock as well as Joel Graf and Kyle Mace.
Infielder Joey Underwood has been pounding the ball hitting 7-for-8 and belting two home runs in the first two games of a recent four-game series against the Northwest Honkers.
The O’s will need solid pitching and if they get hot at the plate and execute, like last year, they will be in the mix come playoff time.
Following the round robin, teams with a minimum of two wins will move onto the playoff round and its unique quasi-double-knockout format.
“You have to win two to advance,” said Maniago, but going 3-0 is an even bigger advantage, because then a team will have to get beaten twice in the playoff round, while those teams with a loss, only need to lose one more game and they’re out.
“I think we’re ready, and we’ve definitely got a chance, but if you play this tournament three times over, you get three different winners. You need a lot of luck.”
The provincial championship will be some of the best baseball Butler Park has seen in a long time and organizers will have the concession rolling, along with 50/50 draws, and a beer garden. Admission is only $4 adults.