The West Kootenay ‘A’ Orioles continue their run at the Washington American Legion Baseball ‘A’ championship with yet another convincing win on Monday in Richland, Wash.
Big innings have been key to the Orioles’ wins and on Monday versus host the Hanford Flames a late explosive rally proved critical to the team’s success.
“The game was really intense,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “It was good for us, as we haven’t had a lot of those games.”
West Kootenay fell behind 2-0 early, giving up single runs in the first and second innings. Hanford pitcher Drew Johnson kept the Orioles hitters off balance through three and two-third innings.
The Orioles found their stride in the fourth scoring two runs to tie the game, and with Brayden DeWitt in for Nathan Dann, the Orioles’ pitcher shut down the Flames in the bottom of four.
“Basically Brayden kept us in the game, limited the damage and we wore them down,” said Maniago. “Lots of good long at bats early that didn’t result in runs but paid off later when their pitcher got tired and we got to him. Once we got into their bullpen the game blew open.”
In the top of the fifth, the Orioles rallied.
Darrin Issel walked to lead off, and Nate Dann moved him to third on a base hit. Nathan O’Brien came up and hit a double clearing the bases for what proved to be the game winner and a 4-2 Trail lead.
But the U16 Orioles didn’t stop there. Chance Fisher singled, and Marshall Debruyn doubled in O’Brien. Jesco Knelson walked to load the bases, and Kelton Forte brought in Fisher. Connor Stainer then came up and hit another double to score two and give West Kootenay a 9-2 lead, before Issel stepped up for his second at bat in the inning, and promptly doubled in two more for an 11-2 cushion
DeWitt shut Hanford down the rest of the way allowing no runs in four innings with three strikeouts. West Kootenay scored one more in the top of seven for the 12-2 final, with Stainer and Fisher each banging out two hits, and Stainer and Issel with two RBIs.
The win puts West Kootenay at 3-0 in the tournament heading into the semifinal. The Orioles are the only undefeated team remaining in the double-knockout bracket, and regardless of a win or loss on Tuesday night, West Kootenay will play in Wednesday’s final.
The Orioles played the 2-1 Olympic CrossCutters Tuesday night at 7 p.m. but the result was unavailable at press time.
The CrossCutters eked out a 7-6 win over Mt. Spokane Monday, scoring two runs in the seventh inning to stay alive. Host Hanford will play the West Valley Bees in the other semifinal.
An Orioles win over Olympic would mean their opponent in Wednesday’s final would have to beat the Orioles twice to claim the championship. For Maniago, either West Valley or Hanford will be a challenge.
“They are good teams, we haven’t seen their best yet, if we see them again it’ll be a fight.”