The Bandits beat the Diamondbacks, 17-1, Monday night to edge ahead of the Royals for first place in the Los Lunas Men’s Softball League National Division standings.
The Bandits were powered by Paul Cieremans, who hit three home runs, including a grand slam, and knocked in 11 runs in the route at Daniel Fernandez Park.
“He’s been coming on strong,” Bandits head coach Rick Romero said of Cieremans. “He’s coming on at the right time.”
The win improved the Bandits’ record to 11-1. The Royals are 10-1, one half-game behind.
Romero is hoping this will be the year the Bandits finally win the league title. “My teams have finished second in this league for many years. So, hopefully, we can make it a first,” he said.
The Bandits field a solid team. “I’ve got a bunch of young guys with a lot of speed, and we’ve got a couple of veterans who have been there before and know how to motivate them,” he said.
The Bandits will field four players in the league All-Star Game to be played July 4. They are Paul and brother K.C. Cieremans, Randy Castillo and Billy Gurule.
The core has helped make the Bandits a solid contender for the league title. Their only loss came at the hands of two-time defending champion Bar III/Two Minute Warning earlier in the year.
Romero knows the Bandits can beat the perennial power. “We beat Bar III twice in Santa Rosa at a tournament we won over the Labor Day weekend, so we know we can beat them” he said. “And we had them here, 18-8, then we relaxed, and they got away from us.”
The other team to beat is, of course, their divisional rival, the Royals.
“Our goal is to beat the Royals. They took second last year, so we’re looking forward to that game,” Romero said.