The final scores were not pretty, but the Cranbrook Bandits ‘B’ team know that they are still a work in progress.
On Saturday afternoon at Confederation Park, the Bitterroot Red Sox shelled the Bandits with 14-0 and 13-0 victories. On Sunday, once again at home, the Mission Valley ‘B’ Mariners beat them 20-6 and then 13-2.
“I thought we started out both games, both days a little bit flat,” said head coach Ryan Phillips. “[We were] a little quiet on the bench [and] a little quiet on the field, but it’s something we’ve got to work on as a team in practice.
“We’ve got to put more balls in play. [There were] a lot of fastballs for strikes and overall, we still need to work with the guys on a lot of stuff.”
Although the team is already well into their year, these were the first games of their regular American Legion season. Being that it’s their inaugural season, however, the squad will take awhile to become competitive in the Montana League.
“One thing I told the guys [is] that they need to watch more baseball and watch the teams that we play [against] because a lot of these teams are good,” Phillips said. “A lot of these kids have been playing ball all their lives [but] in our case, a few of the guys have been playing baseball only two or three years.
“We’ve got to keep at it, we’ve got to have an open mind and be focused and determined to learn.”
In the first game of their doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox had an explosive second inning in which they put up nine runs. After five innings it was 14-0 and the game was called due to the ‘mercy’ rule.
It was a trend of the weekend.
In game two, the Red Sox spread out their runs but still put up 13 after five innings and won the game handily.
“We’re still experimenting,” Phillips said. “We’re still finding where guys are comfortable out on the field and it could be a little while before we’re done with that.”
On Sunday, the Bandits showed more fight but we’re still outperformed by a strong Mission Valley side.
In the first game, the Mariners had a 7-1 lead after two innings and then ran in nine more in during a big third inning.
Although the Bandits managed to get going at the end with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings, it was too little, too late.
“There weren’t too many [bright spots] but if I had to pick [one], I’d say [it was our] bats come the fourth or fifth inning [when] we’d have one inning where we’d tack on three or four runs and that’s a good start,” Phillips said. “But you want to start the game like that. You don’t want to wait for the fourth inning for that.
“I thought it was a little bit too late for that, but it was nice to see that even late in the game we were able to score some runs.”
In the second part of the Mission Valley doubleheader, it was the second and third innings that stumped the Bandits with the Mariners putting up 11 runs in that span to Cranbrook’s one.
While the 20-6 and 13-2 losses were not a great note to exit the weekend on, it gave Phillips some hope for the season.
“Can’t say I’m entirely happy about [those Sunday scores], but we did score a few runs, so it’s there,” he said. “We need to focus throughout the game, one hundred percent. We need to put more balls in play [and] we need to be hungry out there and hopefully things will start going our way.”
Brayden Farquhar led the team offensively with six hits over the weekend and three RBIs on Sunday.
The ‘B’ Bandits will be in action next weekend with four games in Lethbridge against competition from the home city and Medicine Hat.
Cranbrook previously lost to Lethbridge twice at the ‘Bandits Wood Bat Invitational’ in May with 8-7 and 11-1 scorelines. Phillips is planning to continue experimenting with his players’ positions while maintaining the same game plan.
So far this season, the ‘B’ Bandits are 0-4 in the regular season and 8-8 overall.