The Bandits were met with dark skies in Montana over the weekend and struggled at the diamond.
The Cranbrook Junior ‘B’ baseball team entered a pair of road doubleheaders with a perfect 2-0 American Legion conference record, but walked away with nothing more than a couple of losses and cancelled games due to weather.
On Saturday, the Bandits lost their first game to the Kalispell Lakers ‘B’ squad 14-2 and then followed it up later that afternoon by dropping the rematch 13-3. According to head coach Robin King, it was a massive comedown from their previous perfect weekend in Libby.
“It wasn’t a great outing for us […] in game one, we had five errors and they had no errors,” King said. “We had two really bad hops [where] one was a double play and one was a timely out that would have been the end of the inning [but] just caught the edge of the grass.”
While he said that the team improved slightly in the second part of the doubleheader, they were ultimately outclassed by a very sharp Lakers squad.
“We hit the ball well in the second game, but they managed to make the catches,” King said. “Likewise, they hit the ball really well and they found holes. [They] are a really tight squad, which was evident. We had pretty good pitching, but they [still] hit the ball.
“Our game philosophy [is to] get our pitchers to throw good pitches, let them hit the ball and we’ll let the defence [take care of the rest] but it didn’t work this weekend.”
The following day, although the Bandits were eager to have a comeback performance in Whitefish against the Glacier Twins ‘B’ team, a downpour of rain kept them from starting the game. King said that not having a chance for redemption was very disappointing.
“I was really excited because what I’ve learned from coaching for many years [is that] adversity brings out true character so after two days of getting blown out, I wanted to see how our players would react,” the coach said. “My coaches and I are still in that constant evaluation [stage] of seeing different situations and how [players] react and this [could have] dictated how we go forward with playing time and who gets into which situations.”
With a tight upcoming schedule, King isn’t sure that the games with Glacier will be able to be rescheduled. However, the Bandits already had another doubleheader against them planned for next Sunday. Cranbrook faces the Bitterroot Bucs on Saturday before heading to Whitefish.
Following next weekend’s conference games, the team is set to play at a tournament in Libby alongside the Bandits Senior ‘A’ team. In this upcoming week of practice, King is hopeful that they can finetune some elements of their game.
“I want to work with our pitchers and catchers [on] holding runners tighters to their bases,” he said. “[Work on] pickoff plays and keeping runners on their bases [to] hold them back and throw them out when we can.
“We’re a young club and most of our athletes haven’t had a chance to work on these skill sets while some of the teams that we’re playing have. We’ve spent more time on the basics and are [just] starting to integrate more work around the details and complexities of the game.”
While the Junior team is on the road for a good stretch of June, they will return to Confederation Park on June 30 to start a seven-game homestand.