The Cranbrook Bandits came out blazing to start out their weekend at the annual Libby Big Bucks tournament in Montana this weekend.
It was, however, a very hot and cold few games.
Facing off against Idaho’s Moscow Blue Devils on Friday morning, the Bandits earned a quick ‘mercy’ victory thanks to an explosive fourth inning in which they belted in eight runs.
Carson Meggison hit a grand slam as part of the tremendous fourth, part of an outing in which he had two hits and six RBIs.
Meggison also pitched an inning, relieving Jake Bromley who did the heavy lifting after giving up just three hits and striking out two batters in the first four.
By the fifth inning, Cranbrook had a 13-3 lead, and the game was called as American Legion rules dictate they do when a team has a ten run lead at that point.
Later that day, it was the opposite story against the Sandpoint Lakers who beat the Bandits in five innings.
Bromley and Greg Rebagliati led the Bandits offensively in the loss, driving in one run each, while Dan Mercandelli took the loss after giving up five runs, five hits, striking out one and walking one.
The next morning, Cranbrook faced a similar loss against the Northern Lakes Mountaineers who put up a 12-4 win in five innings.
Cranbrook had three runs in the third inning thanks to singles by Bromley and Linden Meggison but it was too little, too late.
Brandon Thorn earned the loss as pitcher after a four-inning performance that included ten runs and two strikeouts.
Although their 1-2 performance only led them to a seventh-place consolation game berth, the Bandits finished off ‘Big Bucks’ strong against the Strathmore Reds.
A groundout by Carson Meggison and a double by Robert Nickell got the Bandits off to a quick first inning 2-0 lead. Seven more runs in the fifth and sixth innings ended the game as a 9-0 Bandits shutout.
Nickell was the star of the game as he pitched all six innings and did not allow a single hit or a walk, and had six strikeouts.
Overall, the team finished in seventh-place and head coach Paul Mrazek was pleased with their performances.
“The games we won, we played well [and] the other games we just need to clean up a few mental mistakes,” he said. “It’s all mental, it’s not physical, so that should be easy [to solve].
“We just have to work on the focus a little bit more. It was nice to finish off with a win in the last game and play well and take that into next weekend.”
In their win over Moscow, the Bandits had zero errors and they only had two in their final game against Strathmore. In their two losses, they had a total of seven errors.
Throughout the weekend, the team was also aided by some members of the junior ‘B’ team who replaced a few Bandits’ roster spots vacated by high school graduation festivities.
Brayden Farquar, Braiden Koran, Carter Marlow and Nevada Joseph all got a taste of the higher division and performed admirably.
“It was good for them to play a step up and see what the game [in the ‘A’ league] is like,” Mrazek said. “The kids are older, faster [and] it’s a quicker game.”
The Bandits ‘A’ team will play another tournament during the upcoming July 1 weekend as participants in the ‘Firecracker Tournament’ in Polson, Montana which ends on July 4.
Mrazek believes that for the most part, their competition will be similar or a little better than in Libby, and hopes his team continues to trend upwards.
“We pitched well and we played well defensively [this weekend],” he said. “I just want to get a lot of reps in this week and [have the team] look at what happened when we played like in those two games and just carry more of that going forward towards the end of the year.”