It took two polar opposite games, but the Idaho Falls Bandits added two more to the win column upon returning to Melaleuca Field on Tuesday.
Despite making more errors than hits, the Bandits blanked the Twin Falls Cowboys 2-0 in the opener. The bats woke up a little more for both teams in game 2, and the Bandits came away with a 3-1 win for a Double-A American Legion Baseball doubleheader sweep.
Bandits head coach Joldy Watts threw ace pitchers Luke Martin and Jalen Fuhriman, both of whom he said came up big against the strong hitting Cowboys. Martin won the opener, allowing no runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five. Fuhriman allowed one run on five hits while walking five and striking out seven to win the nightcap.
The Bandits (28-7) were coming off a 4-1 weekend at the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Wood Bat Classic, where they were eliminated in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Had they advanced to the title game, Watts said Martin and Fuhriman would have been scheduled to pitch Sunday.
“They were fresh,” Watts said of starting his aces Tuesday. “These are big games for us. I thought Luke threw himself out of some jams we put him in and Jalen threw himself out of some jams he put himself in.”
The Bandits overcame many jams in both games. Idaho Falls broke open a pitcher’s duel in the opener when Fuhriman scored off Johnny Hyland’s double to right center. Two batters later, Hyland came home on Tyler Patterson’s two-out single.
Those would be the Bandits’ only runs of the game, and Twin Falls threatened at various times. Bandits errors allowed batters to advance in the first three innings, and the Cowboys had a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning before a fly ball off the bat of Aaron Brann was caught for the final out. Twin Falls also left two men stranded in the seventh inning.
“We feel really fortunate to win a game we didn’t play well,” Watts said.
The Bandits quadrupled their number of game one hits in the nightcap, taking a 2-0 lead after the third inning when Tyson Craig brought home Jade Rencher and Jordan Hadley with a two-out single. Hyland scored in the fourth inning to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Twin Falls ended the 11-inning scoring drought when Kaleb Jones’ single brought home Dakota Kent in the sixth inning, and both teams had chances to add more runs.
Fuhriman struck out Kent with the bases loaded in the top of the first and Jones’ fly ball was caught for the final out with the bases loaded in the third.
The Bandits also left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings.
“I had a good defense behind me,” Fuhriman said. “We scraped a couple runs across when we needed to.”
The Bandits play a doubleheader Friday at Minico before playing a doubleheader Saturday at Twin Falls.
IDAHO FALLS BANDITS 2, TWIN FALLS COWBOYS 0
Twin Falls 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
Idaho Falls 020 000 x — 2 2 3
COWBOYS — Leading hitters: Josh Jund 1-2, Braden Stutzman 1-3, Robert Montoya 1-3, Landon Jones 1-2. Pitcher: Ryan Eller (L) 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 4 B, 3 K.
BANDITS — Leading hitters: Johnny Hyland 1-2 (2B, R, RBI), Tyler Patterson 1-2 (RBI). Pitcher: Luke Martin (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K.
IDAHO FALLS BANDITS 3, TWIN FALLS COWBOYS 1
Twin Falls 000 001 0 — 1 5 2
Idaho Falls 002 100 x — 3 8 0
COWBOYS — Leading hitters: Dakota Kent 1-2 (2B, R), Kaleb Jones 1-3 (RBI). Pitcher: Chandler Greenfield (L) 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
BANDITS — Leading hitters: Jordan Hadley 1-4 (R, RBI), Tyson Craig 3-4 (2 RBIs), Jaxon Bird 1-4 (2B), Johnny Hyland 1-2 (R), Jade Rencher 1-3 (R). Pitcher: Jalen Fuhriman (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 7 K.