Sid Morris hurls the ball to first base to get the runner. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE PECUNIES

Uncharted territory

The state champion Belgrade Bandits face some of the best teams in the country

Play ball! The Montana state champion Belgrade Bandits 12U baseball team traveled to Meridian, Idaho to play in the Pacific Northwest Regional on July 22-25. The Bandits were on the heels of their thrilling 4-1 win over the Gallatin Outlaws in the state championship game on July 11. However, this would be a new test for the Bandits as they were approaching uncharted territory in regard to their opponent’s talent. “It was a first-class tournament with first class talent. It was eye opening to see the high level of baseball we encountered,” Morris said.

The Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament included the ten best teams from the Pacific Northwest. The pool included teams from Wyoming, Idaho, North Oregon, South Oregon, North Washington, South Washington, Canadian provinces Alberta and British Columbia as well as the Bandits from Montana.

The ten teams were split into the “American” and “National” league pools, with five teams in each pool. Each team played four games in their pool, one against each team. At the end of day two of pool play they took the two best teams from each pool by record. The four remaining teams were put in a bracket, with two semifinal games and then a championship game afterwards.

The Bandits fought hard on Thursday and Friday, however they were unable to make it out of their pool into the championship bracket. Morris explained that the Bandits were outmatched by their competition this past weekend. They were the smallest team in both size and area population. He noted that the tournament champions from Meridian, Idaho had 120 players tryout for their Allstar team while the Belgrade team had just 12.

The two players from Big Sky contributed greatly this past weekend and throughout the season. Sid Morris was one of the Bandits best pitchers this season. He led the team in both innings pitched and earned run average. When he wasn’t on the mound, Sid Morris played third base and led the Bandits in batting average as well. Ian Pecunies, also from Big Sky, was a key player for the Bandits as well. Pecunies was either pitching or catching for the Bandits throughout the weekend and was a reliable hitter for them throughout the season.

The Bandits historic season has unfortunately come to a close. Morris states that this year has been a long one and that he and the team are looking forward to some time off. “We are all looking forward to some much-needed rest,” Morris.

The Pacific Northwest Regional champions were the state champions from Idaho. The team based out of Meridian, Idaho hosted the tournament this weekend. Their season will continue August 5-14 at the Cal Ripken Major70 World Series in Branson, Miss. The tournament will eventually crown the best 12U baseball team in the world. The tournament will include the best teams from numerous regions throughout the United States, as well as many national teams throughout the world, according to explorebranson.com.

As for the Bandits, this was their best season to date. They managed to bring home the Montana state championship against teams that were bigger in size and number. Morris is incredibly proud of this team and hopes they will continue to grow in the future. “It was the best year of baseball this team has ever had, we are all really proud of our accomplishment,” Morris said.

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