By Mike Tupa
As the old Kitty Kallen song standard states: “Little things mean a lot.”
An error here, a baserunning faux pas there and other missed opportunities added up to a big heartbreak Wednesday night for the Bartlesville Doenges Ford Indians.
Playing at home for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Indians saw their perfect record at Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium snapped in a 6-5 loss to the visiting Three Rivers Bandits.
Three Rivers scored the winning run on a pick-off play error in the top of the sixth and then stranded Indian runners in scoring position in both the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings.
The nightcap proved to be an afterthought as the Bandits bolted to a 14-4 victory to complete the American Legion Baseball sweep.
The Indians — coming off an inspired doubleheader sweep Tuesday at Pittsburg (Kan.) — fell to 4-2 at home and 10-6-1 overall.
Three Rivers improved to 3-0 against the Indians.
In Wednesday’s opener — which was Bartlesville’s 16th game in 12 days — starting pitchers Corey Murphy (Indians) and Seth Martin (Bandits) dominated the first four innings.
Three Rivers left two runners stranded — including Braden Callico, who had singled — in the top of the first.
In the bottom of the third, Caleb Bruce reached base on a one-out error, advanced on a passed ball and dashed home on Nolan Schaper’s single to put the Indians on top, 1-0.
With Murphy appearing to be near the top of his game, that one-run bulge seemed for a while like it almost might be enough for a Bartlesville victory.
Murphy retired the side in order — on less than five pitches — in the top of the second.
But he surrendered a walk in the top of the third to nine-hole hitter Evan Jacoby — and it came back to bite.
After Jacoby trotted down to first, Murphy whiffed the next batter on just three pitches — all blazing fastballs near the heart of the strike zone.
The next hitter popped in to left fielder Zach Snow.
But, then it was Calico’s turn again.
He smacked a double — that soared over Indian center fielder Colt Wilson’s head and went to the wall.
Jacoby scored on the rocket to tie the score, 1-1, while Calico pulled up at second with the standup double.
However, Murphy bore down to retire the next batter — on a groundout to reliable shortstop Nolan Schaper — to leave Calico stranded.
The 1-1 deadlock held firm until the top of the fifth, when Three Rivers erupted for four runs.
The Bandits punished the ball for three doubles in the inning — one each by Jacoby, Ben Replogle and Jake Coldwell.
Replogle’s two-bagger — which landed in right-center — drove in two runs.
Coldwell came up next and doubled home Replogle to stretch Three Rivers lead to 5-1.
But, the Indians stormed back right away.
Lukas Rietfors opened the bottom of the fourth by walking on four pitches.
Grant Yardley then grounded into a fielder’s choice. It might have been a doubleplay, but Rietfors slid into second base and toppled the shortstop, who’s throw was not in time to retire Yardley.
That hustle by Rietfors and Yardley opened the door.
Dustin Weiesnbach followed by a blistering single to center — after having fouled off five pitches — to bring home Yardley.
Bruce and Nolan Schaper followed with back-to-back scoring singles.
Snow then drove a missile to the center field wall for a double that easily brought home Bruce. However, Welch also tried to score on the play and was tagged out — on a dirt-storm close play — at the plate.
Snow was left stranded at second with the score tied, 5-5.
In the top of the sixth, Three Rivers led off with a double, followed by a sacrifice bunt.
The next batter, Travon Hughes, struck out but the ball went in the dirt and Hughes took off for first. The Indian first baseman dropped the ball and the Joe Risely came home for what proved to be the winning tally.
The Indians made rally noises in the sixth when Weiesnbach reached base on a two-out error and Bruce walked. Both were left standing.
In the bottom of the seventh, Snow and Wilson both singled.
But, Three Rivers Ryan Summers then ended the game on a strikeout.
In the nightcap, Cone smacked a triple and a double, drove in two runs and scored twice to lead the Indian offense.
Snow also doubled and score, Wilson plated two runners and Weiesnbach delivered three singles.
But, the Indians left nine runners stranded.
Replogle lashed two doubles and drove in five runs for Three Rivers; Seth Knight notched three RBIS.
Bruce took the mound loss.