It is about four months overdue, but watching baseball games in Trail’s Butler Park again was well worth the wait.
Trail Youth Baseball’s Grade 10-12 Orioles hosted the Cranbrook Bandits in a doubleheader and came away with the sweep.
“It sure was nice to be out there,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “The kids were really excited to play…was a lot of work to get to that point but worth it.”
The Orioles had a tentative start, with the visitors loading the bases in the first inning. But Trail managed to get out of the inning down 1-0, and comeback from a 3-1 third inning deficit to defeat the Bandits 12-4 in the first game.
Trail kept the momentum going into the second match, and doubled up the Bandits 10-5, despite the strong play of Fruitvale native Allison Schroder, a National Baseball Team member, who played for the Bandits the past two years.
The Trail team consists of many players from last year’s Washington American Legion ‘A’ State championship team, and were key to the weekend wins.
“We kind of picked up where we left off last year, our depth in pitching and defence was the difference,” said Maniago. “Walks and errors led to bigger innings for us. I also think we were a bit more prepared as we’ve been practicing and inter squadding more than they have.”
Trail Youth Baseball has been following the direction of the provincial health officer and viaSport, head of amateur sport in BC. The Orioles have been practicing since the end of June and were given the okay to scrimmage last month.
Just last week they were given the go ahead to play against regional teams like Cranbrook, but with strict COVID protocols in place.
Saturday’s games did look a little different, with players staying out of the dugout, self-distanced, and refraining from celebrating. The umpire called balls and strikes from behind the pitcher, and used sanitized baseballs, while the crowd was spread out in the stands and along the third-base line in left field.
“Changing the balls after every play is harder to remember sometimes but at least we’re playing,” explained Maniago. “Some sports won’t have that luxury; baseball is a socially distant game for the most part and being outside helps. The kids are old enough to understand so they’ve been pretty good about everything.”
The Gr. 10-12 Orioles usually play in the Washington State American Legion League in Spokane, but could not this year due to the border closure brought on by the pandemic. ViaSport gave regional teams permission to play in three-team bubbles, so Trail lined up games with Cranbrook and the Okanagan A’s of the Pacific Baseball League to create its bubble.
“From what I understand, this is what games will look like until there’s a vaccine,” said Maniago. “It’s a bit weird not using dugouts and not high fiving, etc. but, we’re all getting used to it.”