Bandits coach sees improvement

Young baseball squad getting better with more and more game experience under their cleats.

Ryan Phillips lets loose on the pitchers mound for the Rocky Mountain Bandits during a game against a team out of Eureka

Ryan Phillips lets loose on the pitchers mound for the Rocky Mountain Bandits during a game against a team out of Eureka

It’s a youth movement on the Rocky Mountain Bandits squad this year.

With only four 19-year-olds on the team, the younger players have had a baptism by fire as they’ve begun the 2013 campaign of American Legion Baseball.

“We’re coming along defensively and offensively, we got to improve on getting some things done,” said Bandits head coach Paul Mrazek.

“Like cashing runners in when they’re on third base and we have zero or one out, we’re starting to get a little better at that and hit and run, we’re starting to execute that to eliminate the double play.

“In a lot of cases, we’ve been behind three times now, and we’ve been able to come back and take a win, so it’s good the kids see that just because we’re behind, don’t give up, because we’re still in the game and we’ve come back and won three of them.”

The team had a 2-6 record going into the weekend, where they faced off against a team out of Eureka in a double-header on Saturday afternoon.

The first game was a close 4-3 loss that could easily have been a win for the Cranbrook squad.

“We were right in that game, should’ve won it. We had some base running errors that cost us from cashing in the base runners,” said Mrazek.

The Bandits followed up with a 20-5 blowout in the ensuing rematch.

“We came back—our pitching wasn’t as strong as in the first game—but we hit the ball really well and took advantage of them,” the head coach continued.

“…The highlights on Saturday, was Ryan Phillps pitched really well, but because of some base running errors and a couple things didn’t go our way, however, he pitched a complete game with 91 pitches and did real well.”

Another highlight for Mrazek and the Bandits squad was the performances of second baseman Brandon Ouillette and shortstop Devon Marra.

“Brandon Ouillette, our second baseman on both Saturday and Sunday, and Devon Marra, the shortstop, made some great, great plays at their positions,” said Mrazek. “Big range and throwing guys out by half a step. Major league highlight plays.”

Following the action on Saturday, the Bandits rolled into another double-header on Sunday and took on the Cranbrook senior men’s team.

The game was knotted at 4-4 going into the final inning, but a RBI from Taylor Blackburn cashed in a runner that put the Bandits ahead by one run for the win.

The senior team got their revenge in the rematch, as Mrazek said “things went a little flat” for the Bandit, which ended with a 9-3 loss.

Next action for the Bandits is this weekend, where they hit the road for a double-header rematch against Eureka in Montana.