The AM Ford Trail Orioles were whistling the sweet sound of success as it secured its spot in the Senior Men’s Western Canadian baseball championship Aug. 23-27 by taking the bite out of the Vernon Diamondbacks at Butler Park Saturday.
Trail took both ends of a double-header in Vernon last month by scores of 1-0 and 10-0, and needed just one more win in the best-of-five series to advance.
The birds didn’t waste any time as the team played flawless baseball en route to a 9-1 opening match victory.
“They hit the ball really well,” said Orioles coach Dave Colquhoun. “We’ve been working really hard on those things, just getting bunts down, and players scoring.”
It was a tight 2-1 game heading into the bottom of the fourth inning when Brady Glover led off with a single, stole second, and Jesse Rypien walked.
Lead-off batter Conner Jones then stepped up and belted a double to centre field scoring Rypien and Glover to stake the O’s to a 4-1 lead. Jones would later score on a passed ball.
Pitcher Scott Rhynold struck out the side in the fourth. But after walking the first batter to start the fifth, he picked him off with a quick move to first base, and got the next two batters to fly out.
Over five innings work, Rhynold gave up one run on three hits, walked three and struck out eight before Scott Robertson came on in relief in the sixth.
The stellar pitching was backed up by good defense, a growing concern earlier in the season, said Colquhoun.
“Our defence needed to get a little better, just because we haven’t played as much what with the rain this year, but our pitching is always good.”
The Orioles added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in what would turn out to be its final at bat.
The Orioles executed brilliantly on the night, whether it was a sacrifice fly, a bunt or hit-and-run, they came through in every situation.
“Hitting is a tough thing to do, so I was really happy with the way the players were hitting the ball today,” said Colquhoun.
Jones, Glover, Jim Maniago, Ryan Levigne, and Kyle Paulson all went 2-for-4 for the O’s with Jones and Levigne each picking up a pair of RBI’s.
Paulson started the second game of the night and picked up a win in another dominating Oriole performance as they cruised to a 16-2 victory in the second half of the double bill.
The Orioles final home games of the season go this weekend against Pacific International League rival Seattle Studs at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Butler Park on Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday.
Trail wraps up its season with the Grand Forks International tournament Aug. 30-Sept. 2.