No amount of rain, wind or cold was able to dampen the lively bats of the Cranbrook Bandits (10-7-0) Tuesday evening in American Legion Baseball action at Confederation Park.
After dropping three consecutive contests to close out the weekend, the Bandits bounced back Tuesday, sweeping the visiting Kootenai Valley Rangers in consecutive outings, enduring gusting winds and bone-chilling rain to score victories of 16-9 and 8-6, respectively.
“When our pitcher is doing well and the defence is doing their job, if they get a couple guys on base, we have to try not to panic and be patient,” said Paul Mrazek, head coach of the Bandits, following his team’s trio of defeats over the weekend. “We also need to hit the ball a little better.
“If we can tighten up defensively a little bit and keep pitching well, we should start to see more [wins].”
Suffice to say Mrazek saw all that and more Tuesday as the Bandits bats came to life, twice posting six-run innings en route to a 16-9 triumph over the visitors from Eureka, Mont.
A six-run effort in the bottom of the first inning vaulted the Bandits ahead early, before a second six-run inning in the bottom of the sixth virtually sealed the outcome.
With a 9-6 lead on the board, the rain and wind ripped across the field as Linden Meggison stepped to the dish with the bases juiced in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Bandits rookie sent a towering shot towards centre field, with what looked to be a routine fly ball. But as the wind howled, Meggison’s moonshot made its way toward left field, giving a bevy of trouble to the Rangers outfielders desperately trying to track it.
Finally, the baseball came to crash between left and centre field. Meggison trucked his way to second for a base-clearing double, scoring Cedar Kemp, Kei Chlopan and Caden McCormack in the process to boost the lead to 15-6.
As Meggison came to rest at second base, the tarps came out marking the first rain delay of the afternoon.
When the teams came back following a 20-minute delay, the visiting Rangers struck for three runs to momentarily restore some hope for a rally. But there was no more to be had as the Bandits added one final run in the bottom of the sixth before blanking the Rangers in the seventh to end the game.
On the mound veteran Rylan D’Etcheverry collected the win, going 5.1 innings, striking out four batters while allowing eight runs (four earned) on five hits. Hank Dunn bagged the loss for the Rangers, lasting two innings while allowing six runs (four earned) on three hits.
The backend of the doubleheader proved just as dodgy in terms of the weather as the rain and wind continued.
The host Bandits built an 8-3 lead by the time the game was four innings old and that was more than enough to collect the win.
The Rangers managed to score one run in each of the following innings, but came up short in an 8-6 defeat.
Bandits pitcher Hayden Mastel tossed three innings, earning his first victory with only two hits and three runs against (two earned). Dawson Henrie was tagged with the loss for the Rangers, last two innings while surrendering two runs (zero earned).
Offensively, outfielder Jake Bromley did heavy damage for the Bandits, knocking in three runs, while going 4-for-4 at the plate, including a triple.
The Bandits visit the Glacier Twins (Whitefish, Mont.) and Mission Valley Mariners (Polson, Mont.) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Next home action for the Bandits comes June 29 when the Mariners visit Cranbrook for a doubleheader at Confederation Park.