The Cranbrook Bandits ‘B’ team pushed their losing streak to 16 games over the weekend, after they lost a back-to-back series against the Lethbridge Lakers on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the results, however, the Bandits were competitive in both games and showed tremendous improvement from their last few outings.
“We had a lot of hits and made some big contact with the ball,” said head coach Ryan Phillips. “Even with their best pitcher up there, we chased them off the mound in two innings, so it was a good day.”
With a festive Canada Day atmosphere at Confederation Park, Cranbrook came out a little slow in the first game and were down 5-0 after three innings.
With the score at 10-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Bandits turned over a new leaf and drove in four runs and then put up three quick outs in the top of the seventh.
Unfortunately, Cranbrook was only able to put up two runs to end the afternoon and took a 10-6 loss.
The near-rally was a turning point in the weekend, though.
“I told the guys that we needed more focus and we needed to hit the strike zone more,” Phillips said of the change heading into the second game. “There weren’t too many walks in the second game which I was happy about [and] we kept the errors to a minimum too.”
The first three innings of the second game of the day were a back-and-forth affair and it was a 6-6 tie heading into the bottom of the third.
Braiden Koran then singled, driving in a run and Carter Marlow scored to give the Bandits a two-run lead.
Lethbridge, however, had a colossal answer with an eight-run inning and eventually took the game 18-12 in six innings.
Nevertheless, Phillips was suitably impressed with the team and thought that they showed great improvement from their last few games.
“Sometimes the guys have a bad habit of chatting too much in the dugout and getting unfocused,” he said. “That’s one thing we addressed and one thing we hope to change as soon as we can. Today was a step in the right direction.”
The week before, in a tough pair of games against the Kalispell Lakers, the team had a long postgame meeting which led directly to the change in attitude.
“It’s all about staying focused individually and as a group,” Phillips said of turning their positive play into wins. “ [If] the pitcher makes a mistake, you have to stay on him [and] pick him back up. If some guy gets an easy out, then pick ‘em up.
“It’s just about focusing, making the routine plays, not hanging your head when you make a mistake.”
Koran was once again a bright spot offensively for the Bandits, putting up five hits over the two games and earning two RBIs.
Four pitchers took the mound for Cranbrook. Will Doerksen threw all seven innings of the first game and surrendered ten runs, 11 hits, and struck out four batters.
In game two, Braydon Farquhar, Carter Purdy and Brad Traverse shared the pitching duties with Purdy taking the loss after throwing three innings and surrendering seven runs and four hits.
“It’s too bad that we didn’t get the wins we were hoping for,” Phillips said. “I was proud of the guys [though]. It seemed like they played solid [games].”
The Bandits next action will take place from July 7 to 9 at a tournament in Medicine Hat. The team has a 0-8 regular season American Legion Montana League record and are 8-16 overall.