Coby Richards Belgrade Bandits

Belgrade's Coby Richards connects on a pitch during the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday against Helena.

Pound the strike zone, execute routine defensive plays and run the bases effectively.

Belgrade manager Johnny Graham’s formula to thrive this week is simple but may not be as easy on the field.

The Bandits will play the final games of each day during the Belgrade Boys of Summer Tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Medina Field against tough competition from across the region. The first team the Bandits (18-6-1) play is a Northwest Premier team from Idaho which previously won the tournament three times in a row. The field also includes top-notch squads which are succeeding in their own states.

“It’s a blast,” Graham said. “We’ve had some pretty good fields which explains why we haven’t won in so long.”

Graham is hopeful for more strong opponents this time and enjoys seeing teams with different strengths and styles. He considers the Bandits fortunate to face high-quality arms, deep lineups and solid team defenses, forcing them to elevate their own play.

“You get punished for mistakes to a much greater degree,” Graham said. “Their rosters are deeper, and their arms are pretty good.

“That’s the beauty. If we don’t play well, we could get embarrassed a few times. We’ll have to play well to put ourselves in a position to win it.”

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.