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Apr 13, 2018 - Spring State Championships for Top Gun
Our hands will be full this weekend, as we see a lot of teams who play year round baseball entering into this Top Gun tourny weekend. We are familiar with several of the teams, and know how well coached and talented the groups are, so we will try to stay in these games as much as possible. We are playing at Martha Rivers Park in Gastonia on Saturday, so at least we will be close to home. There are eight teams in the AMERICAN division of this weekend, and we are playing in that grouping. That is what we sign up for though, so we will go compete as best we can.
We are set to play at 9am versus Team 24 Gamecocks, and also at 10:45am versus the Roberson Ramblers. We've faced both teams in the past, and are excited to play such solid teams. Hopefully the weather holds out this weekend, and everyone will get to play into day two. It is time to get back on track and into the groove of playing top notch baseball, and as the weather warms hopefully we can play well against this great competition.
Apr 1, 2018 - Treachery on the High Seas
We had a couple of games lined up to play in a one-day tournament on Saturday, with the first game being against an old foe - Carolina Havoc. The Havoc came adorned in orange and blue, and have a pirate mascot on their uniform. They made us walk the plank.
Things started out swimmingly for the Bandits as we were able to get out of a couple early inning jams on defense. In the top of the first, we escaped by giving up zero runs. In the bottom of the first, and while at bat - Landon King hits an opposite field triple over the head of the left fielder, and we have a chance to get on the board in this first inning. With a quick two strike count, Carsten Green steps into a pitch and hits a seeing-eye single into the four hole, scoring our run. It was a good piece of hitting, and we needed it at that moment. We went into the second inning, and the Havoc tie up the score 1-1 after two complete.
Blake Hartness started on the mound for our team, and he did a really solid job of pitching for the most part. He went a pretty efficient four complete innings, and struck out 9 Havoc batters. He gave up only 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 hits. A couple of those hits were really well-timed though; as one of the top 10u team in the Carolinas, you have to expect them to get some big hits. Still, our intent isn't to pitch around 1-5 hitters and slow the game down by walking batter after batter. We come to compete, and Blake always mans up to the challenge. So, Hartness pitched his way out of a shaky Bandit second inning, overcoming our defensive struggles and the Havoc's solid hitting. The 1-1 score after two complete was the last time we were this close again.
In the third inning, the Bandits go down in order 1,2,3. The Havoc's pitcher was a show pony, and recorded 10 strikeouts on the day. He only allowed five hits and most impressively.....walked zero. He had great control and along with a really good battery mate, they were the difference in this game. We didn't put many balls in play to pressure their defense, and that triple that King hit was our lone extra base hit. So, we did our best to hand over the game with the struggles we had on defense, and the extra outs we gave their offense on routine plays that should have been made. But, this pitcher and catcher didn't need our help at all. They dominated the game and were the reason they won this game, and will win a whole lot more games in the future.
The Havoc WON the game by capitalizing on our very poor attempts in the field. I promise everyone....we typically catch pop ups and dribble ground balls. It is hard enough to beat a team like the Havoc by getting them out 18 times per game, but if you allow them 24 outs it becomes impossible to win the game. More important than the win or loss, is how we want to play. Passionless baseball with sloppy defense is exactly what we don't want, but exhibited on Saturday afternoon. Getting beaten by a team like the Havoc is never anything to be embarrassed about, but I think we would all much prefer to get beaten by this or any team where we give a solid effort.
In the third inning, the boat offiically became rudderless for our team. Four runs were scored, on the back of two errors and a walk, one HR swing from the Havoc's number five hitter made things comfortable for the Havoc. It was a well-timed dagger on the heels of misplay after misplay by our team. So after four complete innings, the Havoc lead 5-1. The next two innings the Havoc put up 2 runs in the fifth, and 5 runs in the sixth to make the final margin 12-1. We didn't run the bases well at all, had terrible approaches at the plate and played scared pretty much the entire game. I also think it's safe to say the Havoc worked pretty hard this winter... and it showed.
Game two on Sunday was about as emotionless as game number one. We won the game 12-2, but didn't play well really and labored to a four inning "win". Landon King pitched a no hitter in this game, and found the zone for 9 strikeouts.
We had more people swinging at good pitches in this game all of a sudden, and ended up with 12 total hits. Leading offensive players were Walker Spargo (2-2, single and a double), Brody Crawford (2-3, double, triple, reached base by error), Carsten Green (2-2 with 2 singles), Blake Hartness (2-2, with 2 singles) and Zeke Pruitt (2-2, single and a double). Landon King also helped his cause on the mound by hitting a big double.
This game was put into the books as a 12-2 win, and we went home early. On the season we are 13-3.
Mar 29, 2018 - Bandits ready for the Easter one-day tournament
We are back in action this Saturday with a one-day event to be played up in between Harrisburg and Concord at Flowe Field. We get things started off at 11:30am versus the Carolina Havoc. The Havoc are from the greater Mooresville area near Charlotte. We play our second game immediately after that against a team out of Albemarle, the Bonecrushers. So, we will get to see players from many different counties and other areas not close to where we live this Saturday. Seeing that competition from around the state always makes these type games a little more fun in which to participate.
We have had a couple of good practices here of late, and I think the warm weather has a lot to do with that. We are starting to put in some new stuff, and remind the guys of some old stuff we have always done as well. Hopefully we can make good on our "good" practices and parlay it onto the fields. It's almost April, so we are right in the midst of travel baseball season. Try to be at the field at least 45 minutes before game time, and we will get a chance to play against another top 20 team on the travelball24/7 ranking list. Let's go have a good time on Saturday. Happy Easter everyone.
Mar 25, 2018 - The day that sleet found March baseball
Under gloomy skies, intermittent winds and on and off freezing rain and sleet - we managed to get two baseball games in. We played in the 'American' division of the tournament. This is considered to be the highest level playing options for our age group, and we were hoping to get all games in this weekend.
First up was the Carolina Spinners, a team we are pretty familiar with these last couple of years. A very strong program with good leadership and players, we've met several times on the diamond and always seem to have good games between us. We opened the day bright, early and chilly with a 9am game with the Spinners, and the Bandits were able to stay warm by using their sticks to make fire from scratch. In the bottom of the first inning Belmont jumped on the Spinners early and notched a six run inning. That's always relieving to the coaching staff, but in travel ball you never know if that's the last six run inning you'll ever have. Since we compete every inning, and are judged not only on wins, but also run differential to determine how "well" you finish in these tournaments, it is important for us to push the gas pedal and get all we can get. After a couple of weeks of not hitting the ball real well, the Bandits fell into the groove and were able to find success at the plate as a team. Offensively, we had several guys with big days, and the first inning was the spark for this game, and eventually the second game as well. Blake Hartness was the big RBI man on this day as he smoked a shot down the third base line that rolled to the 250 plus foot fence and allowed him to motor in for a BIG inside the park Home Run. In this game Blake was 2-2 with the HR and also a single. Aydan Bradley, Landon King and Zeke Pruitt also chipped in 2-2 days, with each player putting a double and single beside their names. Patrick Blee had a triple in this game, and Brody Crawford had a double.
Our pitching in this game was very strong, with Pruitt toeing the mound under less than ideal conditions. Zeke pitched a very strong four innings, striking out four and only allowing four hits to a good hitting ball club. The defense and baserunning was top notch in this game for the most part, and the coaches were proud of the boys for going hard after some balls that were hit hard by the big-swinging Spinners. We won this game in controlled fashion, with a score of 11-1 in the four innings of pitching. It was a great team victory, and we were anxious to see if we could beat the rain.....or whatever else might come down out of those grey skies.
Game two was against the Heat Baseball outfit out of the Newton area of NC. We had to wait a game in between, and warded off the freezing rain just as this game was about to start at 12:30. This game was a fun one, and we did our best to speed up the game despite fighting against slow down attempts. We wanted to play baseball, get this game in and see what the weather actually looked like Sunday morning. We got this game in, and were able to win in a fourth inning affair. We won 10-0 here, and since we managed to win the coin flip at home plate, we chose to be "home" team and didn't get our fourth round of at bats on offense. It's always good to win, and win early...but you hate to lose the opportunity to get much needed at bats and play time in. So, playing less than four innings from the offensive side of things- we only scored ten runs but that was also in part due to a good and clever pitcher from the opposing team.
Offensively Carsten Green and Brody Crawford had big days with two hits in this game. Aydan Bradley hit a triple, and Mason Wells hammered a single that got by a defender and he ended up making his way all the way to third. We had some other big swings that were momentum changers; Zeke Pruitt hammered a single by the second baseman and Landon King hit a big fly double near the fence to keep a rally going. The play of the day was when Walker Spargo ("Einstein") was up to bat, and Patrick Blee was on third base. Walker did his part to perfection in executing a play we just put in on Thursday. Patrick Blee made his way around to third base, and was ready to do his part when called upon. Blee timed the steal perfectly, and broke just as the pitcher delivered to home, enabling him to slide in safetly and capture a steal of home. My heart has never been prouder.....it is everything I love about baseball, and what we like to pass on to these boys in Belmont.
Defensively we had a gem thrown by Blake Hartness. He pitched a no hitter in four defensive innings pitched and looked better in person than it does on paper. We had a belly button was too high strike zone, so he made his adjustments and made the other team start swinging the bat after two innings of watching it go by. We're very proud of Blake for adjusting to this age old offensive baseball scheme. We've seen it before, and it can work sometimes. Blake ended the game with nine strikeouts, and proved to be a force from the hill. We won the game 10-0 and figured we would see what the weather looked like early Sunday morning.
Unfortunately we got word pretty early Saturday night that Sunday's games were cancelled due to forecasted temperature and precipitation. It definitely rained some and stopped about 2am Sunday morning. 8am to 12pm looked pretty good temp-wise and with no rain coming down, it looks like that was an early call made. I hope no disinterested teams affected the tournament schedule by complaining about having to play in less than ideal weather conditions. When the sun came out around 12 on Sunday, it felt better on Sunday than it did on Saturday. Not being able to finish the tournament was a pretty disappointing outcome to a good day of baseball played; but, we finished 2-0 and scored 21 runs and gave up only 1 run. I suppose we won the stunted tournament, since we went 2-0 and had the best run differential? It would have been nice to see if we are good enough to have proven it on the field today. Overall, it was a pretty good job by our team in both games, and we look forward to seeing if we can get a full weekend in here soon..... and hopefully do it under moderate temperatures and sunny skies. We are 12-2 right now, only having lost to a couple of 11u teams thus far. You can't win them all in baseball though, but you can always try to get better. We will keep on keepin' on and work on some stuff this week during practice that we haven't worked on in a while.
Mar 22, 2018 - This weekend shaping up to be a sizzler in the drizzle
Will it rain or won't it? If any of our recent weather is a predicting factor, it will rain on Saturday. I hope we are able to get some games in, but this same weather has prevented us from practicing a whole lot recently so it may very well be a doubled edge sword if we get these games in.
This weekend is looking good with a WHOLE LOT of teams signed up to play. Even without the normal practice we do, the boys are itching to play and it's that time of year so why not? We look forward to re-convening with everyone this weekend, and getting a little bit of momentum started back up with our season. We hope to practice more, and better, than we have in the last two weeks.
We are set to play in the American division (D-1 side) of the bracket this weekend in Top Gun around the Charlotte area. If the rains don't come, we will play at 9am versus the Carolina Spinners and 12:30pm versus the Heat Baseball at Ferguson in Gastonia. It's one of those weekends were it's round robin play on both Saturday and Sunday, so we will be playing our games at Martha Rivers on Sunday. We are set for 2:15pm and 4pm games that day. The 2:15 is against the Carolina Bullfrogs out of Concord. The 4pm game is versus the Copperheads Snell/Heis team. The Copperheads are always a good program to play against because they're solidly coached, and flash a lot of talent every time you see them. Maybe we will get our team back on track this weekend. It's baseball season, so now is a great time to get it and keep it in the road.
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