The Cranbrook Bandits ‘A’ team got off to a solid start in 2017 but then faltered in their first two sequels.
Playing in the Loggertown Wood Bat Classic tournament in Libby, Montana — a non-regular season competition — the Bandits beat the Clark Fork Vipers 11-6 on Saturday, then fell 9-1 to the Calgary Redbirds and 9-4 to the Mission Valley Mariners on Sunday.
“It was a good first trip for them to bond [and] I’m not too worried,” said head coach Paul Mrazek after the weekend. “There are so many things that we haven’t touched on and we just wanted to get everyone on the field and see where they were at.”
On Saturday, the Bandits grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first inning over Clark Fork and never looked back, earning a victory thanks to a monster fourth inning.
Leading 4-2, the Bandits drove in 5 runs in the fourth, driven by singles from Jake Bromley, Linden Meggison and Noah Rennette. While the Vipers outscored the Bandits 4-2 the rest of the way, they couldn’t catch up.
On the mound, Brandon Thorn earned the win for the Bandits after throwing three and a third innings, surrendering two runs, one hit, and striking out four batters.
Two relievers helped Cranbrook close out their victory, including Greg Rebagliati who threw one and two-thirds innings and recorded the last five outs to earn the save for his team.
Brendan Bird led the Bandits in hits on the afternoon, with two in three at-bats, and finished with four RBIs.
“We pitched well [and] for the most part I though we pitched well enough to win all weekend,” Mrazek said. “[The Vipers] are a little bit of a younger team, so we put the ball in play a lot. We played okay defensively but they were a U15 team.”
On Sunday, it was a very different story. The Bandits went up against more experienced teams that wouldn’t forgive their defensive lapses so easily.
Playing the Calgary Redbirds, the Bandits fell behind early and couldn’t make a comeback. Calgary put up three runs in the first inning to Cranbrook’s zero, and then outscored them again 5-1 in the third.
Dan Mercandelli took the loss for Cranbrook, pitching five innings and allowing nine runs, 11 hits, striking out only one, and walking one.
Offensively, Linden Meggison, Rylan D’Etcheverrey, Brandon Thorn, and Jake Bromley each collected hits in the loss.
“Defence in both [Sunday] games is what [failed us] and doing some simple defensive things right — keeping our head in the game, and doing the little things right — is what we did not do,” Mrazek said. “Calgary is a solid team but we definitely could have played them a lot tighter.”
The Bandits tried to put their disappointment behind them in their game against the Mission Valley Mariners, which took place immediately following the loss to Calgary, but were once again bested.
Although Greg Rebagliati grounded out, scoring one run in the bottom of the first to take an early lead, the Mariners countered with an explosive 4-0 second inning.
Jake Bromley started out the game as pitcher and gave up nine runs, nine hits, and struck out two batters. He was relieved by Carson Meggison, who gave up two hits but zero runs in two innings.
Parker Thomson, Cedar Kemp, Quinn Grist, and Greg Rebagliati each scored in the 9-4 loss.
“We started rookies [against the Mariners] and there are some things that they just don’t know and we haven’t worked on yet,” Mrazek said. “I really liked these rookies that are sophomores [though], they went up, they hit the ball hard, they put it in play. We just have to tidy things up defensively.”
In practice this week, Mrazek plans to hopefully get the team into game-form.
“There are some fundamentals and basic mechanics [that need tuning up], but we’re also going to do more game situations at full-speed,” he said. “We’ve got to get them comfortable with guys running and making plays at game-speed.”
The Bandits will continue their tournament play with a visit to Kalispell, Montana next weekend to participate in their ‘Canadian Days’ tournament from May 19 to 21.