April 3, 2016
BANDITS START BACK AT IT AGAIN
As Told By: Todd "Nellie" Dilbeck
The gentlemen ballists of Rancho Murieta, also known as the Bandits, opened their 2016 campaign with a resounding victory of 14 tallies to 5 tallies for the visiting Repressa Pioneers. Despite the average age of the club now at 40 years, the Brigadoons of Murieta played their typical game of artful hurling, timely defense, and robust striking at the line. Though there were a few errors committed while fielding batted balls, as is expected in the opening game of the season, the boys were able to rally from each and minimize the damage done by the Pioneers.
From the hurler’s box, four Bandits shared duties on the day. Falco (Cable Davis) opened the game and dueled two strong innings. The Pioneers were able to scratch a run in the opening frame from a leadoff drop hit that challenged the preparedness of the Bandits. Cheddar (Colby Craig) then served pitches for the third and fourth frames, surrendering two more tallies for the Repressa club, both of which were the product of fielding miscues by the Bandits. However, the resilience of the home squad was apparent with two expertly hurled innings from Splint (Matt Corsaut), allowing only a single hit. Sauce (Chris Ross) finished the match for the Bandits, putting on a strong performance. Unfortunately, he too was the victim of two errors that resulted in the final two tallies for the Pioneers. In all, the four Bandit hurlers demonstrated the depth of the squad, and gave assurance that any foe this season can be dealt with.
Though there were a few costly errors, several of these were only such because the Bandits are able to put themselves into position for the possibility of big plays. Their expert style of play was put on display by Boose (Blake Carmichael) who caught a fly ball as a center scout for one hand out, then subsequently spirited the ball home to Behind Pyro (Todd Pennington), who quickly applied a tag to the Pioneer runner attempting to score a tally for a second hand out. Might “huzzah!” were echoed across the diamond in recognition of the outstanding tandem play. The play also seemed to spur higher level of play from the rest of the Bandits as they hung together scoreless innings on the Pioneers for the next two innings.
At the striker’s line, the Bandits once again showed why they are such a strong group. The Bandits presented 10 strikers on the day, with nine scoring clean hits on the day, and eight scoring tallies (some multiple) throughout the game. Impressive displays of power were presented by Cheddar and Bacon (Greg Jorgensen), who both belted four-base safe hits (home runs to the average fan). Cookie (Darren Kitchen) was the beneficiary of having smart strikers in front of him in the lineup, capitalizing with two safe hits and a walk in back to back to back frames, resulting in the production of four of the five Bandit tallies. The fourth frame was an example of the Bandits’ ability to run the bases smartly, as T-Bone (Terry Conway) stole home with both the hurler and behind of the Pioneers muddling around with their heads down after a free-base walk to Cookie. Thus, once again the old man of the club proved why no opponent should take him lightly.
The past two season openers witnessed the omission of three Bandits due to injury both on and off the field of play. Two seasons ago, Leather (Scott Oltmann) suffered a broken arm after being hit by a hurled ball in the season opening at bat. This opening day, Leather proved his value to the club by playing several defensive positions, including a return to his old favorite serving as Behind for several innings. Cheddar remarked that his doing so gave him a familiar feel to the game as he took to the hurler’s box. Both Nellie (Todd Dilbeck) and Falco suffered season long injuries to their legs just before the start of last year’s campaign. Today, both were able to play five and six innings to contribute to the Bandit victory. As noted before, Falco performed superbly as the opening hurler, while he also demonstrated his prowess at the line by reaching base safely twice, and scoring two tallies. Nellie was able to contribute with his defensive skills at second tender and left scout, narrowly missing a runner by a step at home during the third frame with a throw from left.
The next game will feature the Bandits versus the Preston Nine, at Howard Park with a projected noon start. Cranks are encouraged to attend the game to enjoy sunshine, food, and drink, while the Marauders of Highway 16 once again take to the field and put on a show.