Accustomed to playing with a large margin, the Rancho Murieta Bandits (7-0) were in unfamiliar territory this past Sunday; playing from behind. Traditionally strong defense and hurling saved the day for the Bandits, with a few vintage quirks also helping the cause. Once the dust settled, the Bandits secured a 6-4 victory over the Mother Lode Miners (1-5), and the Bandits maintained their undefeated record.
The Bandits jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after lead-off striker Blake “Calaboose” Carmichael reached safely and was driven in off the bat of Matt “Splint” Corsaut. Terry “T-Bone” Conway drove in a second run, and the Bandits looked to be off to a strong start. But the Bandit bats cooled, and the Miners heated up in the second. Seven of the eight Miners strikers reached base on strong hitting performances. With uncharacteristic sloppy play by the Bandit tenders (infield), the Miners stormed to a 4-2 lead that lasted into the fifth!
Ever reliable relief hurling from Jonathan "Junk Yard Dog" Aberle put a stop to the Miners tallies, and the Bandits found their way back onto the scoreboard. In the fifth frame, Miners hurlers became rattled by a few hits and a couple “muffs” (errors) in the field. After Bandit runners advanced to second and third, a Miners hurler attempted a “quick pitch” (legal in vintage ball) in hopes of a strike out. However, the hurler was well in front of the hurler box, resulting in a balk and a run scored for the Bandits. Persistence and patience won the day in the sixth, as more balls were finally put into play. A bases loaded walk gave the Bandits a lead they would not surrender.
But the Miners would not go away silently in the sixth frame. With two Miners aboard and two hands (outs), a hot spinning grounder looked to be headed into the outfield, and the Miners were staged to reclaim their lead. But Bob “Bullet” Gignilliat saved the inning (and possibly the game) with a fine leaping stop, ending the Miners threat. Todd “Penny” Pennington single handedly took control of the seventh inning by leading off with a double, stealing third base, and scoring on a daring dash for home on a passed ball. Bandit closing hurler, Scott "Leather" Oltmanns set down the Miners in order, finishing with two strike outs, and the Bandits survived the Miners scare.
The Bandits have another big test this coming Sunday, June 27th at 10AM (Rancho Murieta, Stonehouse Field II). The Bandits take on the defending champion Sierra Highlanders (4-1). A win by the Bandits will secure a league championship for the Bandits, while the Highlanders still have hopes of defending their title. The stage is set for a fine game! The afternoon game features the Amador County Crushers taking on the Mother Lode Miners in a match-up of the founding GCVBB teams. Come on out to cheer the local boys in their pursuit of a league title!