The Trail U18 Orioles finally saw some College Prep League action, after their opening weekend in Cloverdale was rained out April 8-9.
The Orioles opened their season in Kelowna Saturday and Sunday (April 15-16) with a four-game set against the Kelowna COMBA Sun Devils and the Vancouver Island Mariners.
The Orioles split their games on Saturday, falling 11-1 against COMBA, before an epic rally brought the O’s back from an 8-0 deficit to celebrate a 9-8 victory.
“That game was quite something,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “We were down 8-0 going into the bottom of the seventh and then came back and scored nine to walk it off.
“Not sure I’ve even been involved in a game like that before. It was a very good learning experience for the team that the game is never over, despite the score, and momentum can change quickly.”
Sunday, the Orioles played well, but momentary lapses led to the Mariners beating the Orioles 7-4 and COMBA took the second game in a close 7-5 match.
“First game we made three errors in one inning, which led to six runs and was the difference in the game,” said Maniago. “In the second game, we went back and forth and we had base runners on to tie the game but couldn’t cash in.”
The results were promising for a young Orioles team that has had limited field time leading up to the opening matches. The Mariners, meanwhile, have played nine exhibition games and have been practising for several weeks on their home field in Nanaimo. COMBA has played six games and also have been practising for weeks prior to opening day.
“We were out for our first games and only had three practices so we will get better,” said Maniago. “Our team is very young so it will take some time to get used to the level of play that most of them haven’t experienced.”
The Orioles will see key returning players in Owen Dickson, Logan Bradford, Cooper Desmarais, Kullen Benbow, Scott Mclaren and Levi Konken. Several of their top players moved on, but that doesn’t mean the Orioles won’t be competitive this year.
“We basically lost our entire infield and top six batters in the order from last year so it will be a bit of a rebuild,” said Maniago. “Having said that, our team is young and keen and won’t quit, which will pay off.
“We’ve already seen progress and we think we will compete. There’s good young talent coming out of bantam and as coaches we’re excited because there’s a lot of teaching to be done.”
The Orioles will play their first home games at Jason Bay Field at Butler Park this weekend, a doubleheader against last year’s regular season champion Chilliwack Cougars on Saturday.
“We are definitely anxious to get on our park and hope to get a practice in before the weekend,” added Maniago.
“We’ve made the final-4 two years in a row and each year we’ve started slow and gotten better by playoffs, so this year will be no different.”
The first pitch will be thrown at this Saturday’s (April 22) games at 2 p.m. at Butler Park.