The Bandits exploded for 24 runs in the first inning of game one of the tournament, which took place at the Mather Sports Complex outside of Sacramento. That set the tone for what turned out to be the Bandits’ strongest tournament performance to date, culminating in an 11-0 massacre of the No. 2 seed Continental Cobras in the Championship Game on Sunday.
Leading up to the championship showdown with the Cobras, the Bandits destroyed the Diehard squad in game one on Saturday by a final score of 29-1. Later that evening, the Bandits methodically defeated a well-respected Bombers team 11-1, qualifying them as the No. 1 seed in the tournament heading into the championship round on Sunday.
In the championship showdown against the Continental Cobras, the Bandits erupted for 10 runs in the top of the third inning, effectively putting the game – and tournament – away.
Shortstop Amaury Reed made a spectacular showing in the tournament. Reed has been the leader of what has developed into one of the best infields in 11U youth baseball for the entire season. Not only does he convert on virtually every routine ground ball, he turns in the occasional Web Gems as well. To top it off, Reed crushed a two run homer in the game against Hard 90, collecting three hits and five RBIs on the weekend, while scoring a total of six runs.
Equally spectacular were Reed’s fellow infielders: third baseman Tyler Toland and second baseman Skylynd Rios. The infield provided the Bandits’ pitching staff with strong defensive support all weekend long. Meanwhile, Toland hit a cool .500 while lead-off batter Rios sent a message to all concerned in the traveling baseball circles with his 9-12 hitting performance, including eight runs scored and six RBI’s.
Darius Foster came up with possibly the biggest play of the tournament in the game against Hard 90. With River City clinging to a 5-4 lead and Hard 90 at bat and the bases loaded and two outs, Hard’s number-two batter hit a line drive into the right-centerfield gap. But Foster, who has electric speed, took the perfect route to the ball and caught it on the dead run to save the game and the tournament for the Bandits.
Pitcher Xavier Christensen threw a strong first three innings against Hard 90, needing only 32 pitches to record the first nine outs. Reliever Jack Santos slammed the door in the fourth inning (help from Darius Foster) to save Christensen’s game and secure the Bandits’ spot in the championship game against the Cobras.
The big hit of the game against Hard 90 was delivered by Manny Espinosa, who with the Bandits still leading by a 5-4 score, singled to left with runners on second and third and two outs to give River City a more comfortable 7-4 lead heading into the sixth and final inning.
The other pitching stars were Jordan Chriss and Dareon Thompson. Chriss pitched a complete game against the Bombers on Saturday night, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks. He struck out six in the process. In the final inning, with River City leading by a score of 7-1, the Bombers loaded the bases with only one out. Were Chriss and the Bandits to allow one more run, they would have dropped from the one seed to the two seed; two runs and they would drop to the three seed.
But Chriss maintained the top seed for his teammates, striking out the next two batters. When Will McConnell drove in two runs in the bottom of the frame with a solid single to left, the game ended after only four innings as a result of the “slaughter rule,” 11-1. McConnell finished the tournament with seven hits in 11 at-bats and a team-leading eight RBIs. Dareon Thompson was right behind McConnell, pounding out six hits in his 10 official ABs plus a team-leading nine runs scored and five RBIs.
Coach Gabe Rios then turned the ball over to Thompson in the Championship Game against the Cobras and Thompson did not disappoint, throwing a complete-game, one-hit shutout. Every single Bandit notched at least two hits, scored at least four runs and drove in at least two runs. The championship run was a true team effort.
– Contributed by Tom McConnell