A well-timed but controversial bunt led to a big inning for the Becker Bandits in their 14-9 win over the Becker Buzzards last Sunday at the BAC.
The game is an annual tradition that pits the youthful exuberance of the Bandits against the old age and treachery of the Buzzards, who play in the over 35 senior men’s baseball league.
A total of 10 errors by the Buzzards’ defense allowed the Bandits to pile up the runs, but perhaps no single play was more costly, or controversial, than a squeeze bunt that Bandit manager Cole Hanson called for in the fourth inning. Zach Wenner placed a perfect bunt in front of home plate and was able to beat out the throw as a run scored. The Bandits would go on to score six runs in the inning and proved to be the pivotal moment in the game. The play resulted in some jeers from the alumni section of the Buzzard fan base, as they boisterously voiced their displeasure with the bunt amid allegations that it violated the “unwritten rules” of the game and seemed to reflect ageism.
It was all in good nature, of course, as the rivalry game has become a yearly tradition between the two amateur baseball teams that produces plenty of chatter among both the teams and fans alike.
“It’s always a great time playing those guys,” Hanson said. “It brings the whole town together and overall is just a grand time . . . especially when you see some old faces show up that you haven’t seen in awhile.”
The Bandits jumped on the board in the second inning with a pair of runs and then added the six run fourth inning to take a commanding lead. But pride wouldn’t allow the Buzzards to be blanked on the afternoon, as Manager Jason Baune and his squad picked up a run in the 4th and three in the fifth to make it an 8-4 game.
However, the Bandits picked up a single run in the sixth and four more in the eighth to put the game out of reach. The Buzzards did score five runs over the last two innings to make the final respectable.
The Buzzards were led at the plate by Jason Pfingsten, who had a pair of doubles and scored two runs in the game, while Baune trotted out four different pitchers to the mound.
Hanson countered with five arms of his own, including the winning pitcher, Cam Fischer, who struck out three batters in his three innings of work.
Offensively, Matt Krenz had three hits and scored two runs for the Bandits, who scored the 14 runs on 15 hits.
Hanson and Baune are already planning next year’s game and preliminary plans are in place to align it with Freedom Days. The managers hope to make it “back to the ballpark” event and invite alumni from area amateur baseball teams to come and celebrate America’s pastime.