The Spokane Bandits had the taste of defeat in their mouths after losing in the Fourth of July Tournament title game last year, and they were obviously eager to get rid of it.
Spokane, which fell 9-1 to Budd Bay in last year’s finals, prevailed this year with a 9-2 win over the Meridian Rangers in the AAA American Legion Fourth of July Wood Bat Tournament championship game Sunday at Shadle Park’s Al K. Jackson field.
Bandits starter Danny Jordan, pitching on two days rest, earned the win for Spokane, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings. He also benefited from outstanding defense.
“Our D was solid all day and it makes you feel pretty good to know that there are eight other guys out there playing their butts off,” he said.
Bryan Karwacki got the Bandits on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the fourth. Two batters later, Kyle Krustangel scored on another sacrifice fly by Max Manix to give Spokane a 2-1 lead.
The runs continued in the fifth. After the Bandits loaded the bases against Meridian starting pitcher Ryan Posey, Craig Baker was called on to pitch to Krustangel. Krustangel hit a ground ball to second base which scored Danny Jordan and then Karwacki hit a two-run single up the middle to give Spokane a 5-1 lead.
“I was just looking for something I could hit solid,” said Karwacki. “He threw me a high knuckleball and I was able to connect with it and drive in the two runs.”
The Bandits added four runs in the seventh to put the game away.
Karwacki finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs and Chad Berland scored three runs to lead Spokane, which won all seven of its games throughout the four-day tournament.
Bandits’ coach Chris Spring said the success of his squad was a total team effort.
“At some point throughout this tournament, every one of our guys stepped up for us,” he said. “They were determined … they wanted it and they got it done.”
Spokane beat the Coeur d’Alene Lumbermen 6-1 in the semifinals earlier in the day to reach the title game.
Tournament director Mike Padden thought highly of this year’s tournament.
“It was fun,” he said, “but it wouldn’t be possible without the tremendous support from the community and the volunteers.”
Spring agreed, and was enthusiastic about his team’s win.
“To be at home and to win this is very special,” he said. “Every tournament win is something we’ll remember for a very long time.”
The Rangers, a team out of Boise, finished 5-2 at the tournament.
Junior Division Championship
Ben Harris walked with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, giving North Central a 3-2 win over Lake Stevens in the AA Championship game at McEuen Field in Coeur d’Alene.
The Indians topped University 8-4 in the semifinals earlier to reach the title game.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.