BELGRADE — It was a dominant weekend for the Belgrade Bandits in Three Forks. A relatively young, but skilled team went against some of the best competition in the area and came out on top with the Southern A district title.
“Again, we’ve put enough preparation into all these facets, our short game. We’ve prepared long and hard on that stuff, so it’s a matter of trusting our players to go out and execute and they did," said Bandits head coach Johnny Graham.
Over the course of the four-day tournament, the Bandits outscored their opponents 40-7, and for guys like pitcher Mason Jacobsen, knowing you’ll get that kind of offensive production every game, provides a major boost in confidence when stepping on the mound.
“It’s nice, it’s a real weight off your shoulders. Just being able to do your job as a pitcher and know that your offense will come out there and do what they have to do," said Jacobsen.
Jacobsen pitched a complete game, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out eight in the Bandits 2-1 title-game win over Gallatin Valley. From pitching himself out of a bases-loaded jam to securing the game’s final out, coach Graham expected nothing less from his star ace.
“That’s what Mason does. He's an absolute competitor. He competes with himself for quality innings, it’s non-stop. It doesn’t matter what the score of any game is, he’s competing," Graham said.
With a top seed locked up for the state tournament in Lewistown this weekend, the celebration on Sunday was short lived as the whole team prepared to get its mindset in line for bringing some hardware back to Belgrade.
“Well, we’d love to (win a state championship) but it’s a long ways away," Graham said. "So we’ll take the 200 feet in front of us and attack it like we always do or like we’re prepared to do.”
“We just have to play four to six, A to B and do our jobs," added Jacobsen, "and do what we do best, which is win.”
Belgrade opens the Class A state tournament against the Bitterroot Bucs at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Click here to view the updated scores and pairings from the State A tournament in Lewistown.