The West Kootenay ‘A’ Orioles capped off their Spokane American Legion Baseball League’s regular season with a pair of decisive wins on Saturday at Butler Park and are a confident crew heading into the District tournament this weekend.
After clinching first place last weekend with series sweeps of Newport High School and the Prairie Cardinals, the Orioles boosted their season record to 15-1, rolling over the Central Valley Indians 15-0 and 17-0.
“We are pretty happy with how we are playing,” said West Kootenay coach Jim Maniago. “We really hit the ball well on the weekend, right through the lineup, we had contributions from everyone.”
The Orioles then played an exhibition doubleheader against second seeded Newport on Sunday with two more convincing wins, however, Maniago suspects a bit of gamesmanship from the Spokane team in the warm up for Districts.
“We expected closer games on Sunday but we rolled right over them. They were saving some pitching I think, not wanting to show us their best, but they were pretty decisive wins and they didn’t hit us at all.”
The Orioles have incredible depth on the mound with pitchers Jake Maniago and Marshall Debruyn each throwing no-hitters this year. Rounding out their impressive rotation are the strong arms of Breyden DeWitt, Connor Stainer, Nathan O’Brien, Kelton Forte and Nathan Dann.
Similarly, the O’s offence is a well-rounded attack, with Stainer cashing in consistently in the clean-up spot. Yet, every game a different player steps up and makes a contribution, whether it’s a big hit from Darrin Issel, a stolen base from Jesco Knelson or a key RBI from Reid Gerrand.
“We are fully healthy, the kids are ready to go and are confident but we are reminding them that if we don’t play well teams will beat us.”
The Orioles only loss this season was a 6-4 setback to Central Valley A on June 15, and they have been unbeatable ever since, outscoring their opponents 93-13 in the last nine matches.
The SALB District tournament begins Thursday, with the top eight teams from the American Division advancing and the top three from the National Division. The Orioles enter the tournament as the number-1 ranked team, and, as a result, earn a bye the first two rounds.
“We’ve set ourselves up with a good draw based on finishing first but now we have to win when it counts,” added Maniago. “There’s always surprises in any playoffs and everyone brings their best, you have to be ready.”
West Kootenay plays their first game on Saturday at 5 p.m. at University High School. With a win they’ll advance to the semifinal at 5 p.m. on Sunday, a loss will set up a match on Sunday at noon.
The top four teams will advance to the American Legion Washington State championship in Tri-Cities July 26-29.