On Sunday April 26th, the Rancho Murieta Bandits (2-0) trekked out to Jackson, CA to take on the two time defending champion Amador County Crushers (1-1). In the 2008 campaign, the Bandits fell by one tally in each of their two games against the Crushers. But this Sunday, it was the Bandits who came away victorious in the afternoon tilt at Argonaut High Park. Timely hitting, base-path awareness, and steady defense were keys to the Bandits’ first win over the Crushers.
The Crushers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. A run scoring single by clean-up hitter “Meat” was followed by some daft advances on the base paths, as he scored on a passed ball up the line. But the Bandits followed suit in the bottom of the first frame when they tallied two of their own. Matt “Splint” Corsaut knocked in Blake “Calaboose” Carmichael, and “Splint” later came home on a hard smash to shortstop by Colby “Cheddar” Craig.
The second inning again featured crafty base running by Crushers’ captain, “Wheels,” who knocked a double to lead off the inning. He stole third, and came in on a bouncing passed ball to give the Crushers a 3-2 lead. That is where the score remained through four innings. The Bandit defense kept the Crushers at bay, highlighted by a diving stop by short stop Rob “Rib-eye” Rinaldi who gunned down a runner at second to end a threat in the fourth. Starting pitcher Craig “Shooter” Sheehy (despite a split nail on his throwing hand) retired seven Crushers in a row as well.
During the fifth inning, it appeared that the Crushers would pull away, as their first two strikers crossed the plate from a combination of singles and Bandit miscues. “Splint” entered the game to hurl, and quickly struck out two of the first three strikers he faced. Heads up play from Ben “Coco” Hardt ended the Crusher threat as he picked up a bounding grounder to feed a streaking “Splint” at first for the final out of the inning.
The Bandits took to the plate behind 5-2 in the fifth, but made up two tallies on the heels of speedy “Philthy” Phil Albee and Todd “Penny” Pennington. Both strikers also advanced and scored on dropped third strikes (a vintage rule where all forced runners must try to advance). Because of this rule, and because of the heads up play by the Bandits, the deficit was reduced to 5-4 entering the sixth inning.
Once again, the Crushers would not be denied, as they scored another run in their half of the sixth. After “Hater” landed on first, he was knocked in on a double by hot hitting “Crunch” (3 for 3). However, Right Scout “Penny” tracked the ball down, and a relay by Rob “Rib-eye” Rinaldi gunned down the runner at third base to record the second out of the inning. Consecutive singles by the next two batters looked to have the Crushers in position to extend their lead. However, “Splint” got the final batter of the inning on strikes, and the Crushers stranded baserunners at 2nd and 3rd for the second consecutive inning.
Down 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth, captain “Calaboose” led off the inning with a double, thanks in part to a throw that was off the mark. “Splint” continued the rally with his second RBI single of the day. Two batters later, muffin Scott “Leather” Oltmanns knocked in Splint to tie the score at 6-6. Dan “Sunny Daze” Hayes brought in Leather with a solid rap to right field to give the Bandits a 7-6 lead that they would not relinquish. Once again, the vintage rules and speedy Bandits led to another run by “Philthy” on passed balls and dropped third strikes.
With an 8-6 lead, “Splint” shut the door on the Crushers, allowing only one single in the final inning, while striking out two. With that, the Bandits completed their first win against the Crushers, and captured sole possession of first place in the early running of the season.
Although tensions were high toward the end of the game, as is customary in the gentleman’s game, both teams gathered together at the end of the game to thank the many cranks in attendance. All present agreed that it was a finely played game, and both teams look forward to a healthy re-match, as the past three games between the teams have been settled by only 4 total runs!
The next Bandit game is 1:30 PM on Sunday May 3rd. It will be played at Amador High School versus the Mother Lode Miners (2-1). The Bandits have yet to take a regular season game from the Miners, and will have to be on their game against the veteran squad if the Bandits hope to keep their winning ways alive. The winner of the game will maintain first place with a victory. The next Bandit home game is May 17th at 1:30PM. Come on out and enjoy the vintage game at home “or on the road.” You can always stay up to date on the Bandit web-site here on .com, or at ww.gcvbb.com.