Cranbrook Bandits ‘A’ team pitcher, Brandon Thorn, throws some heat during a game against the Glacier Twins on July 10, 2017. (Brad McLeod Photo)

Cranbrook Bandits ‘A’ team wrap up regular season at home against Libby

American Legion team looks to prepare for State Tournament in last Confederation Park doubleheader

It’s the last weekend of American Legion baseball in Cranbrook for the summer and according to ‘A’ team head coach Paul Mrazek, his club should be able to put on a good show.

With a 3-17 regular season record and a 12-27-1 overall record, the Bandits have guaranteed themselves a low playoff seed but their opponent on Saturday, the Libby Loggers, should be a beatable team for them.

“[Libby is] a team that we should be able to get a win [against], maybe two,” Mrazek said of his team chances in their last doubleheader of the season. “We played some good teams last weekend and played some innings well, we [just] need to stay away from those big innings where we have multiple errors, multiple walks and give up five, six runs.”

In an eight-game over four-day stretch last weekend, the Bandits lost every match including two against the Loggers in Libby. While they are guaranteed a spot at the Class A West District Montana League championships in Whitefish from July 19 to 23, they will likely enter as an eight seed team out of eight total clubs.

Their first opponent in the tournament will either be the Bitterroot Red Sox (19-2) or the Glacier Twins (18-2).

While Mrazek believes that wins against Libby (11-9) this weekend are possible, he’s most concerned with his team getting back on track mentally.

“It’s more that I want to see them play the way they can play [then get wins],” Mrazek said. “[I want to] see them build some confidence in themselves.”

In their last home games on Monday against the Glacier Twins, the Bandits lost 19-6 and 26-11. Over the course of 11 innings during the doubleheader, the Bandits had three innings in which they surrendered 10 or more runs.

Although Mrazek used 10 pitchers during the pair of games, it’s a strategy that he hopes he won’t have pull out again this year.

“That was more so [just] for that game. Last weekend we went through a lot of pitchers to keep arms fresh and not throw too much as we had eight games in four days,” Mrazek said. “We weren’t throwing strikes on Monday [and] once a pitcher walks two straight, they usually don’t recover, so we wanted to act fast and try to stay in the game.”

Despite the tough season they’ve had so far in their first year as an ‘A’ class team, Mrazek is hopeful that the Bandits can stay calm in the few remaining games.

“We’re just trying to get players to relax and think about when they play the game well,” the coach said. “[Let’s] go in and play a solid couple of games against Libby before we go to districts.”

The Loggers doubleheader will take place on Saturday at Confederation Park, with the first game scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and the second game set for 3:00 p.m.

The junior ‘B’ team, meanwhile, are in Hamilton, Montana for the weekend at the American Legion Montana State Class ‘B’ championship tournament.

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