The West Kootenay Orioles got off to two exceptional starts to open the Washington State American Legion ‘A’ Baseball championship in Richland, Wash.
The West Kootenay Orioles scored nine runs in the first inning on their way to a 12-0 victory over the Moses Lake Sundevils Saturday and repeated the nine-run deluge in a 13-3 win over the West Valley Bees on Sunday.
“The boys are playing great,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “The teams we’ve played aren’t bad teams although the scores make it look like it. We’ve just had unbelievable first innings and have taken the wind out of their sails before they knew what hit.”
Eight teams are vying for the State title including West Kootenay, Moses Lake, Olympic CrossCutters, Mt. Spokane Wild, Gonzaga Prep, University High School, Hanford, and West Valley Bees.
Kelton Forte led the Orioles in the first game with three hits and four RBIs, as West Kootenay scored two more in the third and one in the fourth for a mercy-rule win. Marshall Debruyn earned the win on the mound, giving up just one hit while striking out six for the O’s.
The second seed from Area 4 of the American Legion Baseball League, the West Valley Bees, were coming off a big 12-1 win over the Mt. Spokane Wild Saturday. The Orioles, however, hit the ball often and hard in the first inning taking a 9-1 lead. West Kootenay added two more in the second and another deuce in the fifth for their second straight mercy-rule win.
“Once again our depth has shown to be a difference,” said Maniago. “We hit right through the lineup, there’s no easy outs. And we’ve run teams into the ground, I can’t count how many stolen bases we’ve had.”
Debruyn contributed on the offensive front as well with three hits and two RBIs for the Orioles. Trail pitcher Jake Maniago started for the O’s going three and one/third innings, giving up one run and striking out three Bees batters.
Pitching will be key heading down the stretch, and due to the great starts, the Orioles have been able to go to the bullpen early.
“Because of the quick games we are set up better than we expected pitching wise. We’ve been able to pull our starters out so they are good to pitch in the next few days when we need them.”
West Kootenay played the Hanford Flames at 7 p.m. on Monday, but the score was unavailable at press time. Hanford, the no. 1 seed from Area 4, beat Gonzaga Prep 4-3 in their first match, and throttled Area 1 champion Olympic CrossCutters on Sunday, 18-3.
“Hanford looks solid and it’s always tough to play the host team,” added Maniago. “As always, our pitching and defence have been really, really good, if we can put up some runs then I like our chances. I’m sure they are going to come at us hard tonight.”
With a victory, West Kootenay will play Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Olympic and Mt. Spokane. In the event of a loss, the Orioles will play at 4 p.m.