Bandits infielder Sho Kanzaki (#3) throws during weekend action in Trail.

Bandits infielder Sho Kanzaki (#3) throws during weekend action in Trail.

Bandits ready for back-to-back doubleheaders at home

Bandits return to Cranbrook as Glacier Twins, Kalispell Lakers visit Saturday & Sunday, respectively for American Legion Baseball action

After lighting up Trail’s Butler Park last weekend, the blazing bats of the Cranbrook Bandits return to Confederation Park for a pair of home-field doubleheaders this weekend, welcoming the Glacier Twins and Kalispell Lakers for American Legion Baseball action Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

“Improvement-wise, just playing good fundamentally-sound baseball and staying within that is going to be a big thing moving forward,” said Paul Mrazek, head coach of the Bandits. “The players are getting a better understanding of what their job is, how it works and what they need to do to get it done.”

Saturday, Confederation Park will play host to the Glacier Twins, with doubleheader action getting underway at 1 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, the Kalispell Lakers pay a visit to Cranbrook, with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.

The Bandits bats exploded for 42 runs in four games last weekend, en route to three victories and improving the team’s Montana State ‘B’ record to 7-4-0.

Having played nine of 11 games out of town to this point in the campaign, the Bandits will look to maintain their perfect, though small, record at Confederation Park.

After rain snubbed the team’s originally scheduled home-opening doubleheader against the Trail Orioles (May 21), the Bandits welcomed the Libby Loggers the following Saturday, bagging a pair of wins — 7-3 and 11-10 — to get off to a good start at Confederation Park.

Since then, the schedule has kept the Bandits on the road. After going 1-2-0 on their first road trip to start the season, the Bandits have registered a mark of 4-2-0 over the past two weekends away from home.

Between the success of the past weekend and the perfect start at home, the Bandits are one step ahead of where they were at the same point in 2015.

After 11 games to start last summer’s American Legion Baseball season, the Bandits were 6-5-0, having outscored opponents by a margin of three runs per game (8.09 to 5.09; 89 runs to 56). With an extra win in the bag in 2016, the Bandits are ahead of last year’s mark, having also outscored opponents by more than 3.5 runs per game (8.90 to 5.36; 98 to 59).

“There are a few situational things we can improve on,” Mrazek said. “Some of that, you can talk about it and you can practice it, but sometimes you don’t really know it until you experience it in a game.

“I’m trying to put [the players] in those positions more in games, offensively when we can call a play. But getting ready for this weekend, we just want to stay healthy, get lots of reps in at practice. A lot of stuff we’ve been working on in building our foundation, we still need a little more of that.”

Following this weekend’s home action, the Bandits ride the highway once again, visiting Whitefish, Mont., and the Glacier Twins for a doubleheader June 18, before taking on the Mission Valley Mariners for a doubleheader in Polson, Mont., on June 19.

Next home action for the Bandits come Wednesday, June 29 (1 p.m.), when the Mariners head north of the border for a doubleheader at Confederation Park.

Cranbrook Bandits Statistical Leaders

Bandits Batting Leaders (min. six games played)

Average: Caden McCormack — .485 (16/33)On-base percentage: Caden McCormack — .622 (28/45)RBI: Linden Meggison (14); Caden McCormack (12); Noah Rennette (8)Bases on balls (BB): Caden McCormack (12); Robert Nickell (11); Tyler Thorn (8)

Bandits Pitching Leaders

Wins: Tyler Thorn (2); five others (1)Earned-run average (ERA): Dan Mercandelli (0.87); Caden McCormack (1.31); Sho Kanzaki (2.63)Strikeouts: Dan Mercandelli (13); Caden McCormack, Jake Bromley, Tyler Thorn (7)Innings pitched (IP): Dan Mercandelli (16.0); Tyler Thorn (9.0); Sho Kanzaki (8.0)