Idaho Falls Bandits coach Ryan Alexander describes his team as a group of players that don’t like to lose.
“These kids are just a bunch of internally competitive kids,” he said Monday, a day after the Bandits made team history by winning the American Legion Northwest Regional title and earning a berth to the American Legion World Series.
The Bandits needed two victories on Sunday to clinch the regional title and got off to a good start with right-hander Randon Hostert tossing his second no-hitter of the tournament in a 3-0 win over Kennewick (Wash.). Hostert struck out nine and Bruer Webster and Nick Layland each had two hits. The Bandits took advantage of an error in the fourth to plate two runs and Layland followed with an RBI double.
The championship game was a rematch of Saturday’s game between the Bandits and Bozeman Bucks. Idaho Falls won that game, but Sunday’s championship matchup proved more dramatic.
The game was tied 1-1 and went into extra innings before the Bandits broke it open with four runs in the top of the 10th inning. Tavyn Lords homered to right to open the inning and Alex Cortez belted a triple to center to bring home two more runs. Tanner Webb’s single added another run, putting the Bandits up 5-1.
Jaxon Sorenson closed it out, tossing four innings of one-hit ball in relief as the Bandits improved their team-best record to 56-6-1.
The American Legion World Series begins Thursday in Shelby, N.C. with the championship scheduled for Aug. 20.
“We just have to stay focused (on) what the ultimate goal was,” Alexander said. “They’re a step away from the dream becoming reality.”
The Bandits began the season with high expectations because they featured a roster loaded with depth and experience. Those traits have helped carry the team through a long season and a tough postseason. After the regional tournament the team stayed in Lewiston and will travel to North Carolina today. Alexander noted that the Bandits will have traveled more than 14,000 miles this season once they get to the World Series.
“It’s been a fantastic journey with a great group of kids,” Alexander said, adding that the couple of off days gives the coaching staff some time to scout World Series opponents. Of course, opposing scouting reports likely have Hostert at the top of their list. The former Bonneville ace has been clutch in big games since the end of the high school season. His back-to-back no-hitters in the regional tournament are believed to be a first in American Legion tournament history.
If opponents think the Bandits are a one-person team and focus on Hostert, then that works to Idaho Falls’ advantage, Alexander said, noting that Jaxon Sorenson hadn’t pitched for three weeks but came in and tossed four scoreless innings of relief in the regional title game.
“The depth has been fantastic,” Alexander said.
The World Series features eight teams. Each team plays three pool play games, with the top two teams from each pool advancing to Monday’s semifinals. The two winners will play for the World Series title on Aug. 20.