The Trail U18 Orioles rose to the occasion this past weekend, winning three-of-four BC Minor Baseball games to guarantee their spot in the post-season.
After coming off a split with the Kelowna COMBA Sun Devils on July 1, the Orioles secured a spot in the top eight of the College Prep Division this weekend with two victories over Vancouver Island Mariners and a split with the top-seed Chilliwack Cougars.
“It was our best offensive weekend of the year by far and a total team effort where every kid contributed,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “Chilliwack has a big park, if we were at Butler we would have hit at least three home runs.”
The Orioles beat the Mariners 9-1 in its opening match with Jake Maniago pitching a complete game four hitter and struck out 10. Nathan Dann, Connor Stainer, Owen Dickson and Nathan O’Brien all had two hits in the winning cause.
In Game 2 of the four game road trip, the Orioles lost a close 11-9 battle to Chilliwack on Saturday. Levi Konken took the loss pitching four innings and giving up six runs. Offensively Logan Bradford went 3-for-4, and Maniago, Reid Gerrand and Konken both had two hits and two runs. Trail actually outhit the Cougars 14 to 7, but gave up too many walks.
On Sunday, the Orioles opened with a big 11-5 win over Chilliwack, their first victory against the league’s top team this season.
O’s pitcher Nathan Dann went the distance, giving up 12 hits and two walks, while striking out nine. Offensively Dann also crushed it going 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs. Cooper Desmarais and Stainer both had two hits.
Trail ended their regular season with a 4-1 victory over the Mariners. Logan Bradford pitched a complete game five hitter. Jake Maniago had two hits, including a triple and two runs scored, Gerrand had two hits and two RBI and Dickson also had two hits and two runs.
The Orioles finished their season with a 19-21 record, good for seventh place. Trail finished just one point behind North Fraser and four points back of Ridge Meadows in what was an exciting 40-game season, marked by parity and excellent play all around.
The Orioles travel to Cloverdale to play the second place 29-10-1 Nationals this weekend in a best-of-three playoff. Maniago hopes the team can ride the momentum of the final two wins into the playoffs.
“We are the underdogs but if we hit like we have been we will be dangerous because our pitching and defense has been as good as anyone’s all year,” said Maniago.
The Top 8 teams make the first round of playoffs with the top seed facing eighth seed, second vs seventh and so on. The winners will meet the next weekend for the Final-4 playoff to determine the league champion.
Orioles games go on Saturday at 3 and 6 p.m. and on Sunday at 10 a.m. if necessary.