and Barry Coulter
The Cranbrook Bandits ‘A’ team fared much better this past weekend, splitting a series of games with the Kalispell Lakers at home and heading across the border to battle the Glacier Twins in Whitefish.
Head coach Paul Mrazek was pleased to see his team clean up their game after a couple tough games last Sunday in Missoula.
The games against the Lakers were close, as Mrazek said the team dropped one of them by a score of 3-2.
“We played them tight, the first game we lost 3-2, but we do a couple things and we win that game,” Mrazek said. “They’re a good team and we played solid. I was happy with how we pitched, which has been a problem lately.”
Following the double-header with the Lakers, the Bandits headed down to Whitefish for a pair of games against the Glacier Twins.
“We pitched well again, we were continuing to hit the ball very, very hard,” Mrazek continued. “They’re a good team, but held our own for a while — we had a couple bad innings, but it was 1-0 after four and a half innings.
“We’re playing the better teams better and we just have to keep that going for seven innings.”
The Bandits will be back on the road this weekend for a tournament in Libby, where Mrazek has high hopes for his team. The roster will be getting an injection of some players from the ‘B’ team, he will lose some of his regulars to high school graduation events.
“We want to go in and play them the same way we played Whitefish and Kalispell. We do lose some seniors to Grad, so this is where a couple ‘B’ roster players are coming up to fill them spots and hopefully get some time around the game at a higher level.
The Bandits will open the tournament with three games in as many days against the Moscow Blue Devils, Sandpoint Lakers and the Northern Lakes.
Meanwhile, the Bandits B team headed to southern Alberta last weekend for a four-game schedule, three against Lethbridge and one against Medicine Hat.
The Bandits came away winless for their southern Alberta sojourn, but Head coach Ryan Phillips says he saw “some major improvements from the guys.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t win any games,” Phillips said. “But as the games went on, I saw the guys start to play as a team.
The first game was a 17-2 loss, but the end it was a 6-1 loss, and the game was actually really fun to watch.
On Saturday, June 17, the Bandits fell 17-2 and 14-9 against Lethbridge. On Sunday, they lost 13-5 against Medicine Hat and 6-1 against Lethbridge again.
“A lot of the guys on our team, it’s their first year playing competitive ball, so we’re still in the experimental stages, I guess you could say,” Phillips said. “They’re learning the game — as well as me as a coach.”
The Bandits B team is being introduced to the complexity of baseball — to the immense amount of practice it takes executing plays, and dealing with the psychological aspects of the game.
“That’s what baseball is — taking thousands of reps at practice week after week until you get good enough that you can do it without thinking,” Phillips said.
“That’s another part of baseball — the mental aspect of it. Things can be going your way, and all of a sudden they’re not, and you have to make sure you sticking in the game and battling as best as you can.
Still plenty of baseball to come. The Bandits B teams play a double header next Tuesday, June 27, against Kalispell B, at Confederation Park in Cranbrook. The season starts winding down in mid-July.