The Cranbrook Bandits look to build upon a successful stretch of play when they host the 2014 Montana State ‘A’ champion Glacier ‘A’ Twins in American Legion Baeball action this Saturday at Confederation Park.
The Bandits, 2014 Montana State ‘B’ champions, disposed of the Glacier ‘B’ Twins in consecutive outings (11-9, 13-3) this past Sunday but will face stiffer competition when they hit the diamond this Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We need to maintain this positive vibe we have going now,” said veteran pitcher Tyler Thorn after Sunday’s 13-3 win.
“We need to just have fun and not worry about who we’re playing or who’s pitching, who’s on the mound or what kind of hitters they have. We just need to go out there and have a good time.”
Prior to Sunday’s pair of victories, the Bandits had dropped a tough set to the Kootenai Valley Rangers, falling 7-4 and 11-1 in a doubleheader June 7.
The home wins that followed boosted Cranbrook’s boys of summer to 11-8-1 on the season. With roughly half of the campaign in the books, the Bandits hope to maintain momentum.
“We’re having a great year,” said catcher Brandon Ouillette. “We could even have more wins than we do.”
Of the Bandits eight losses, five have been by two runs or less. Apart from a couple blowout losses (10-0 at Libby, May 31 and 11-1 at Kootenai Valley, June 7) the Bandits have been in every game they’ve dropped.
Ouillette knows a little more focus in those close games could easily bring about victory and the hope is to dig in moving forward.
“We’ve got to stay on task and not get lazy,” Ouillette said. “We’ve got to keep it going, keep hitting the ball and not fall asleep out there.
“We’re way ahead of last year. We’re just going to try to keep it going and hopefully we can go on to win state again this year.”
The Bandits found themselves 8-12 after 20 games during the summer of 2014, so the current mark of 11-8-1 is certainly progress from what the club had achieved at this point last season.
As a result, head coach Paul Mrazek is happy with his club’s progress as they work past the halfway mark of the campaign.
“There are a few things to work on, but the kids are getting more comfortable,” Mrazek said. “They’re getting more confident. We’ve done a lot of the teaching and now it’s a lot more reps.”
The next set of reps come this Saturday at 1 p.m. when the Bandits fire up a doubleheader against the Glacier ‘A’ Twins.
The Bandits have yet to face the ‘A’ Twins this season. In two meetings last year, Glacier claimed two wins — 11-3 and 10-0 in Whitefish, Mont.
Following Saturday’s home doubleheader, the Bandits are scheduled to visit Polson, Mont., on Sunday, taking on the Mission Valley ‘B’ Mariners at 1 p.m. before facing the ‘A’ Mariners at 3:30 p.m.