by nathan oster
The Bandits got the pitching performance they needed, but were hurt by a lack of timely hitting and some defensive lapses in a 3-2 loss to the Lovell Indians in the semifinals of the season-ending interleague tournament.
Sponsored by Big Horn Federal, the Bandits finished with a 9-4 record, while the Indians used the hard-fought win as a springboard to the interleague championship. In the process, a Lovell team regained the title as the league’s best after a Greybull team claimed the top prize last season.
Ken Wright, manager of the Bandits, said Jake Schlattmann delivered a gem of a pitching performance. In three plus innings of work, he limited Lovell to just two runs — the first coming on a wild pitch/passed ball, the other on a defensive lapse.
Carlos Rodriguez followed — and the only run that he allowed also came on a wild pitch/passed ball. “They only had one or two good hits the whole night,” lamented Wright.
Unfortunately for them, the Bandits also had a tough time stringing hits together, but still found themselves in a position to win late. In the top of the sixth, trailing 3-2, the first three Bandits reached base safely, all of them on bunt hits. But the next three went down in order to end the game — and season for the Bandits.
It was the Indians third win of the year over the Bandits. All three were tightly contested affairs. “This was a whale of game, too,” said Wright. “We had our chances. Just too many left on base.”
The win was a disappointing end to an otherwise excellent season for the Bandits.
“We beat some good teams and played good baseball,” said Wright. “The good thing is, we player developed more (at the majors level) than I think we ever have. I think that will set us up for future success.”
The 12 year olds who formed the core of this year’s A team will be moving over to the big field and Babe Ruth baseball next year, while it will be prime time for the 11 year olds who played on the B team this year, as they’ll be the most experienced players at the majors level next season.
For some members of the A team, the season is not over. Tryouts were held Monday night for the Big Horn County all-star team. Featuring kids from the north and south ends, it will compete in the district tournament scheduled July 19-22 in Green River.
For all teams just embarking on their postseason journey, the dream is to make it to Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series. The tournament will unfold this year from Aug. 17 through Aug. 27.
by nathan oster