The West Kootenay ‘A’ Orioles played for the Washington American Legion ‘A’ State championship on Wednesday after defeating the Olympic Crosscutters in the semifinal on Tuesday in Richland, Wash.
The undefeated Orioles were in a prime position to capture its first American Legion State title after beating Olympic 6-1, unfortunately, the result of the evening finale was unavailable at press time.
“We’re pretty comfortable with where we sit,” said Orioles coach Jim Maniago. “We’ll do our usual routine and try to keep it light, but I’m sure the boys will be a little nervous and excited.”
West Kootenay faced host Hanford Flames, after the Flames torched the West Valley Bees 13-7 in the other semifinal.
“They (the Orioles) are confident but know Hanford is a good team and it’s always scary to play the host team.”
West Kootenay’s wins have been driven by key hits and big innings, and the win over Olympic was no exception as the Os jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first frame.
“We were a little lucky last night (Tuesday),” said Maniago. “They gave us some runs with errors in the first inning and it was the difference.”
The Crosscutters actually out-hit the Orioles, banging out nine hits to the O’s eight, however, four Olympic errors were costly, as West Kootenay played perfect defensively.
“Our bats have given us comfortable leads, but our pitching and defence has been outstanding. When we make an error, it seems like the next play someone makes a great play to make up for it.”
The 4-0 Orioles have actually improved defensively as the series wears on, making just four errors in four games, compared to 14 committed by their opposition.
Their pitching has also been nothing short of spectacular allowing just six runs over the four matches. Jake Maniago went five and 2/3 innings on Tuesday, giving up just one run while striking out eight batters.
The Crosscutters scored in the top of the fifth to make it 5-1, but the Orioles restored the five run lead, plating a run in the bottom half of the inning. Closer Connor Stainer came in and struck out four batters to end the match and send the Orioles to the final.
“Jake did what Brayden (DeWitt) did the night before, bent but didn’t break,” said Maniago. “They had some runners on a few times, but then he came back and struck a few guys out and they didn’t get anything.
“That’s what wins you championships.”
After an American Division title, and an undefeated run through the Districts and State championship, Maniago and the team were confident going in to Wednesday’s final.
In addition, according to the double-knockout format, Hanover, at 3-1, had to beat West Kootenay twice to win the championship.
“It’s been a great year regardless but you might only get one chance at something like this,” added Maniago. “We want to finish it off.”