Belmont Bandits 9U baseball team
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Bandits are the best around....for this weekend anyway
Apr. 10, 2017
The baseball gods smiled on the Bandits on Sunday. What a day for our kids, parents and supporters! We had to play two really tough teams that battled us the whole way in each game. We found ourselves in the Gold Bracket, and as usual we had to face some talented youngsters in order to accomplish this weekend's goal. The Bandits got to play in lovely Harper Park located in Stanley, NC. It was the site of an early year scrimmage and home of the 10u Carolina Astros. So, we were familiar with the field and surroundings. On Sunday the weather was perfect, the Bandits were not, but the outcome of each game was ideal.
We played the L-Town Lightning in game one, and were able to come out with a 11-10 win in our first game of the day. We didn't play great in this game in spots, but were able to turn it on when needed to secure the victory. L-Town had a kid who looked like Willie McGee in centerfield, robbing everybody's solid base hits. I haven't verified this in the book, but he had to have 5-6 put outs and of those robbed 3-4 normally "would be" hits from our players. He was a really impressive player, and the Lightning were a scrappy bunch who fought us to the end. We had to come back in this game to get the win, which was a nice thing to see. The 9u Bandits didnt' quit and believed that they could swoop back in and end up on top. We had some really solid pitching, and an overall team effort on the mound. The Lightning came out swinging and put the ball in play, and we made several good defensive stops later in the game, after a shaky earlier portion where some balls got through. Patrick Blee was our best defender in the field for this game. He plays primarily middle infield, and is a constant solid presence wherever we put him. The trio of Blake Hartness, Zeke Pruitt and Landon King pitched for us on Sunday, and combined efforts to put us in contention for the wins we were able to get.
Offensively Bug Green lead the way going 3-3 with two doubles, a single and scored three runs. Blee was hot on his heels going 3-3 with two singles, a double and scoring three runs. Zeke Pruitt was 2-3, scored runs and got on base three times out of three plate appearances. Luke Lassiter came in hot with 2-3 and Brody Crawford went 1-3 and scored a run. Christopher Wurster showed some last inning heroics when he smacked a big time double and went 1-2 while scoring two runs on the game. That leadoff hit in the fifth proved to be the spark we needed to get the winning run home and steal this victory. It was a hard fought battle and the Bandits were happy to get out of this one alive. This win set up the Championship game with the dreaded Carolina Havoc.
The Gold Championship game was set to play just fifteen minutes after our first game ended, but we were anxious to get a chance at redemption against the Havoc. We have seen the Havoc before, and lost to them in a championship game earlier this year. We are used to facing opponents' stud pitchers, and we got to see theirs for a second time this year. Our boys did a great job of staying in the box and fighting off curves and attempting to catch up with the fastballs hurled by them. It was a big ask of them to compete with such a great pitcher, but lucky for us we don't have to look too far to find tough kids on our bench. They rose to the challenge, never quit during this game, and battled hard all the way until the last inning. At one point in the game, we were down 8-1. The Havoc jumped on us early, and scored four runs in the top of the first inning. That is usually a death sentence when you play a team like this, and especially when they have a pitcher on the mound that can control a game so effortlessly. We had a signature defensive stop on the weekend that halted that big first inning the Havoc were dominating. A hard hit, low fly ball went into centerfield, and Brody Crawford raced in, dove and snagged the ball inches from the grass. He hopped up and threw out the runner who had trickled too far off first base. That double play signified our first stand being made in this game, and was a huge momentum swing for our team. The Bandits mounted a voracious comeback at the plate over the course of the last couple of innings though, which started in the fourth inning. The bottom of the fourth had the Bandits coming up to bat, and the comeback started here when we scored six in this inning. In the last inning, we entered the bottom of the sixth tied at 8-8. For the previous inning and this inning we saw a new pitcher, but he was another very good pitcher who commanded the strike zone. Dalton Skipper and Christopher Wurster lead the inning off by putting the ball in play and reaching on consecutive errors. That gave us a chance. After one pitch, Zeke Pruitt had a ball called on him and Wurster was able to advance to second base. Pitch two was in the strike zone, and Pruitt put his bat on the ball and sent a shallow CF pop up into play. The fielder was not able to squeeze the ball, allowing our run to score and win the game. Luck finally shined on the Bandits a little bit; we needed some help, and finally got it from a typically outstanding defensive team. Those three hitters that put the ball in play for the Bandits showed great competitive spirit and that ended up being the difference in the game. The run plated, and we secured the 9-8 win to bring home the Gold Championship.
Offensively, we had the middle to lower part of our lineup show up to be the stars of this game. The bulk of our runs scored and driven in came from the middle to lower part of the order. The leading hitter for this game was Aydan Bradley going 2-2. Out of three plate appareances, he got on three times - and had many more great swings where the ball was just barely foul. Some of those swings would have been doubles because they were smoked off the bat, and couple went to the 205 foot fence. Zeke Pruitt went 2-4 and got on base three times total. Bug Green went 1-3. Christopher Wurster got on base three times out of three plate appearances. Dalton Skipper went 1-3, got on base twice and scored two runs. Landon King was hot the whole weekend, and contributed 1-2 in this game, and got on three times out of three appearances. Walker Spargo went 1-2, walked, scored a run and was on base two times. Defensively we had some really impactful plays. Brody's play in CF was huge, as well as Zeke Pruitt closing on a groundball late in the game with a runner inches from the hard hit ball and he punched out the hitter at first base with a strike. Carsten Green caught two great games, and showed a lot of control and poise from behind the plate. Our pitching was very solid with Blake Hartness and Zeke Pruitt getting through the tough innings and recording outs. Pruitt came in via relief, and got us out of an early first inning jam that could have gotten much worse. Landon King came in to close out the game, and was masterful in his command of the zone, and only gave up one run in three innings pitched.It was a great team effort and win for the Bandits. Thanks to all the great support we continue to receive from our fans!! It was a memorable weekend, and a deserving Gold Championship victory.
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