Thanks to finishing first in the regular season, all it took was one win at the districts to vault the West Kootenay ‘A’ Orioles into the Washington State Championships.
The Orioles downed Gonzaga Prep 7-5 in a nail-biter on Saturday to advance to the final of its bracket. However, their opponent in the final, the Prairie Cardinals, forfeited the match giving the West Kootenay team a ticket straight to the state tournament starting this weekend in Richland, Wash.
“It was kinda anticlimactic,” admitted coach Jim Maniago.
The Orioles got a bye to the semifinal thanks to its top-seed ranking heading into the districts. So the win against Gonzaga propelled them to the final.
Maniago said the players were disappointed not to get a chance to play in the final game. He suspects Prairie’s forfeit will be met with disciplinary action from the league.
Meanwhile, the Orioles coach focused on his team’s 7-5 win over Gonzaga on Saturday as a good indication of his club’s ability.
“The Gonzaga Prep game was really good and I think a sign of what we can expect moving forward, lots of ups and downs, back and forth.”
The West Kootenay squad held a 4-1 lead after three innings and 5-2 after four innings before Gonzaga exploded for three runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game at 5-5.
But the Orioles didn’t buckle and responded with two runs in their half of the sixth including Nate Dann’s single, which drove in the eventual winning run.
Jake Maniago got the start on the mound and Kelton Forte came on in relief to notch the win. Connor Stainer was 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBIs.
Two other teams from the district will join the Orioles at the state championships – Mt. Spokane and Gonzaga – who both won their consolation brackets.
The 2019 Washington State ‘A’ championship gets underway Saturday with the Orioles taking on a team from Seattle in the eight-team double-knockout tournament.
The state champion will be crowned on July 31.