Penticton Gators baseball team competing in Pacific Northwest championship

The Okanagan Falls Gators are in the Pacific Northwest Cal Ripken U-12 Regional Championships in Washington State

OKANAGAN FALLS GATOR Nate Collins connects with the ball during an exhibition game against the Castlegar Blue Jays.

OKANAGAN FALLS GATOR Nate Collins connects with the ball during an exhibition game against the Castlegar Blue Jays.

The Okanagan Falls Gators have qualified for the Pacific Northwest Cal Ripken U-12 Regional Championships in Washington State.

The Gators face the best teams from the Pacific Northwest representing B.C. as Canada’s representative this weekend.

“We all think it’s pretty cool to be recognized as the lone Canada entry. Lots of players and people down here are asking us questions, and for the players it is about making new friends during the skills competition,” said Gators coach Tony Orioli.

The Gators will play four round robin games against the state champions from Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington State.

The top four teams out of 10 after round robin play will advance to the semifinals. The overall winner advances to the Cal Ripken 12U World Series being held in Aberdeen, Md., U.S. in early August.

The Gators hit the road for Kennewick on Wednesday morning and joined a team barbecue, opening ceremonies with team introductions, parade onto the field with Canadian anthem being performed and then a skills competition. Orioli said it was a good experience for the players.

“Definitely some very competitive teams, we will work hard to compete,” said Orioli. “It is a great experience representing B.C., Canada in Cal Ripken which is a huge respected baseball tournament in the U.S.”