Nearly 30 games into the season, the Vigilantes have started remodeling.
Before Tuesday’s 6-4 victory over Bend, ending a four-game losing streak in front of an announced crowd of 1,561 at Saddleback College, the Vigilantes released second baseman Matt Marquez, who had only three hits in 34 at-bats (.088) in 13 games. His roster replacement is shortstop Chris Ashbach, who came off the seven-day disabled list.
Also coming off the disabled list was outfielder Reuben Smiley.
Going on the disabled list was third baseman Sean Drinkwater with a sore forearm.
There could be another key acquisition. Cobi Cradle--who retired after last season--is talking with team officials about going through some workouts while the Vigilantes are in town.
Last year, when the Vigilantes played in Long Beach, Cradle appeared in 90 games--the most by any player on the team--and batted .281 with four homers and 26 RBIs. He set a club record with seven triples and was second in the league in stolen bases (36) and runs (77).
Despite some anxious moments in the ninth--reliever Steven Ceterko had to get the last two outs with the bases loaded--the Vigilantes looked better than their record (12-17). Still, they are last in the Western Baseball League’s Southern Division.
The Vigilantes backed the strong effort of starter Mark Draeger (3-0), who went seven innings and gave up one unearned run on five hits, with three home runs (out of seven hits) and two double plays.
“Our bats showed up tonight,” acting manager Brad Lesley said. “Our starting pitching was good and so was our closing.”
The Bandits (10-19), last in the Northern Division, began their reconstruction a week ago. They added Andres Duncan--brother of former Dodger and current Yankee Mariano Duncan--at shortstop and moved Brian Conley to third. Expected to arrive tonight is outfielder George Mota, son of former Dodger Manny Mota, from Orlando, Fla.
And they also signed pitcher Matt Boan III.
The problems of the Bandits, who had nine hits Tuesday, go beyond personnel changes. “Sixty-three errors [in 28 games] speaks for itself,” Bandits’ Manager Al Gallagher said. And the Bandits--weary from their 15-hour bus ride to Mission Viejo--made four more Tuesday, three by Duncan.
After his last error in the sixth, when he lost a possible double play by hitting Bret Barberie in the head with a throw, Duncan and Vigilantes outfielder Alan Burke jawed briefly at the end of the sixth. And when Duncan was nicked by reliever John Homan in the seventh, he and catcher Eric Brooks got in each other’s face and both benches cleared.
Duncan, Brooks and Kirt Kishita, who dived into the pile before being repelled by Lesley, were ejected. Kishita is the Vigilantes’ primary closer, and Lesley was upset at losing him. “But I will address that in the locker room,” he said.