The Cranbrook Senior ‘A’ Bandits will be looking for a little revenge on Saturday afternoon, as they face a team of the program’s alumni players at Confederation Park.
The second installment of an annual event, the Bandits lost 7-5 last summer in the inaugural game and should once again face a tough task in the 9-inning wood bat game. With over 20 alumni players confirmed to be attending, including at least 10 from last year’s squad, the community should be in for another good game.
“We’re playing to win,” said Bandits head coach Paul Mrazek. “We’re playing pretty well, right now. The guys are playing fast and playing relaxed. They’re doing a good job pitching and [doing well] defensively. We’ve been hitting the ball well all year.
“[The alumni have] got a real mix of guys that finished playing last year and they’re currently playing in college to guys that played college 15 to 18 years ago [so] they’re going to be excited to play and hopefully it will give the fans a good game to watch.”
One member of the alumni team was a member of the losing side last year. Jake Bromley graduated from the Bandits program at the end of last season to join the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack of the Canadian College Baseball Conference. He will join fellow current CCBC player Tyler Thorn, who has played for the University of Calgary Dinos since 2016, as some of the most well-practiced alumni.
Thorn is also currently an assistant coach for the Cranbrook Junior ‘B’ Bandits and will be once again facing his brother Brandon, who is a current member of the Bandits ‘A’ squad.
“I think it’s great for [our younger guys] to see [the college players],” he said. “They’ll be able to see how these guys move and their improvement. They all come back faster and stronger, hitting the ball harder [and] being able to have a little more velocity on their throwing. [They’ll] see that they can do the same thing too, have that same opportunity.”
Overall, the alumni team includes players who graduated from the program as far back as 2003. Some of the most notable players set to suit up at this year’s competition are Devon Howarth, who played for Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Missouri; Ryley Hunter who played for Whitworth College in Spokane; Eric Nutzhorn who played for North Dakota State; and Ryan Saunders who played for Dickinson State, also in North Dakota.
The game is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. at Confederation Park with the Bandits experience in full swing with music, an open concession and merchandise for sale.