The Banditos Black 14U Major (pictured above) continued its early-season roll this past weekend winning the Easton April 300 Point Slugfest in Texas by going 5-0 overall and outscoring opponents 41-13. Manager Toby Potter’s club is now 10-1 in USSSA play this year, with two tournament titles (the other coming earlier this month at the Belt Wars Global World Series Qualifier).
The 300 Point Slugfest was a massive event, as it attracted nearly 250 youth baseball teams from around the country. There was 16 total divisions and classifications ranging from 14-Major to 7-AAC. The event format was fairly straightforward and similar to other large USSSA tournaments: first round of pool play into a single elimination bracket. In the 14-Major division, 13 teams were vying for the title. Each squad hailed from the host state except the Colorado Yard Dawgs- Bates.
The Banditos got started against the Houston Royals Gold – a AAA team with a sub .500 record. The final score matched what was anticipated on paper as the Banditos won in mercy-rule fashion, 12-2. Zane Adams pitched two innings for the winning side before giving way to Connor Bennett for a single frame. The second pool game of the day served as a good test for the Banditos. They took on the SA Kings 14u Martinez who are no joke. The Kings are Major classified and currently have a 14-4 overall record. The boys from San Antonio were only able to force across one run against the Banditos pitching of Landen Yorek, Ryan Host and Samson Pugh. The Banditos won 6-1 to close out a brief, yet impressive pool play round.
Despite being 2-0 and only allowing three total runs through two games, the Banditos were given the third overall seed heading into bracket play. There were 5-0 teams with 2-0 records and two of them had better average runs allowed marks, Kings Baseball and YETI Baseball Club Crawdads. Nonetheless, the Banditos earned a first round bye in the bracket phase which is key to keeping players and pitchers fresh in a grueling second day of play.
After receiving the bye, the Banditos squared off against Marucci Elite Texas-Hahn who took down its first round opponent 11-3. This lopsided score might have concerned some opponents, but the Banditos handled Marucci with ease and won 12-1. The star of the game was starting pitcher Diego Gomez who threw a complete-game five inning gem. Next up in the semifinals for the boys from Tomball were the aforementioned SA Kings. The Kings were fresh off an upset of the No.2 seeded YETI Crawdads and were riding some serious momentum. This was thwarted by the Banditos and especially Landen Yorek and Andre Landry who combined to hold a powerful Kings offense to just five runs. The Banditos scratched across six of their own and advanced to the finals to take on the Yard Dawgs.
The out-of-staters had been throttling opponents in bracket competition, outscoring foes 24-4 through three games. The Banditos however won its second consecutive one-run game to hoist the trophy at this Global World Series Qualifier and cap an excellent weekend run.
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