Roadrunners coyote-punched in opener

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Roadrunners coyote-punched in opener

BARTLESVILLE — Weather conditions were perfect for Saturday’s official debut of the Pawhuska Roadrunners, a new American Legion AAA baseball team.

The site of the Pawhuska 17-and-under squad’s inaugural double-header also was first-rate and, unfortunately, so were the Road Runners’ opponents.

Despite a solid overall performance at Doenges Memorial Stadium, the local club dropped back-to-back decisions to the Bartlesville Braves, 14-6 and 8-0. Bartlesville’s pitcher recorded a no-hitter in the second contest to write another brief chapter in the history of the venerable downtown ballpark.

The visitors from Pawhuska drew first blood in the opener. Leadoff batter Tanner Reed reached second base on a Braves’ fielding error and went to third following an errant pickoff attempt. Reed scored the first ever Roadrunner run when the Bartlesville third baseman committed his second error in the inning on a ball hit by Caleb Bruce.

Roadrunners’ pitcher Gage Dagenais struck out the first and last batters in the bottom of the first and made a successful pickoff toss to third baseman John Bighorse for the middle out. During the balance of the inning, the host squad posted three runs off three singles, two walks and an infield error.

Pawhuska added a run in the second to get back within one, at 3-2. Matt Mullins, Colton Hindman and Hayden Henley all singled and Zach King was hit with a pitch. Henley picked up the RBI by knocking in Hindman. (Ironically, the hardest-hit balls in the inning — low line drives by Bighorse and Reed — resulted in all three outs, including a double play.)

In the home half of the second, Bartlesville scored three more times and went up by four, 6-2. The Braves filled the bases after an error, a walk and a hit batter; then, emptied them with a two-run single and RBI groundout. Dagenais struck out two batters in the second, just as he had in the first. The Roadrunners went scoreless in each of the next two innings, while the Braves added two in the third and one in the fourth to expand their lead to 9-2.

Pawhuska scored twice in the fifth without getting a hit. Hayden Javellas reached on a dropped third strike before Bruce was hit by a pitch and Dagenais drew a walk to load the bases. Mullins got plunked by a pitch to force in Javellas with first run and a grounder to the right side by Bighorse brought Bruce across for the second.

Bartlesville added another run in the fifth before Dagenais ended the inning with a strikeout. Trailing 10-4, Pawhuska battled back in the sixth with a two-out rally that started with consecutive singles by Reed and Javellas. After Bruce walked to load the bases, Bartlesville’s catcher uncorked a high throw to third on an attempted pickoff to bring home Reed as well as Javellas, who scored standing up following a non-stop flight around third.

The Braves put three more on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth, causing an early conclusion to the contest due to the eight-run rule. Dagenais struck out seven, walked six and hit two in going the entire 5 1/3 innings for the Roadrunners. Bartlesville finished with 14 hits and made seven errors while Pawhuska had six singles (by Reed, Javellas, Dagenais, Mullins, Hindman and Henley) and committed two miscues.

Bartlesville’s no-hit pitcher in the second game, Corey Murphy, walked two Pawhuska batters (Javellas and Mullins) and hit another (Bighorse). After being held scoreless in the first, the Braves tallied twice in both the second and third innings, then pushed across four runs in the fourth.

Brycen Swan, who started on the mound for the Roadrunners, gave up just one earned run in 3 2/3 innings. He notched a pair of strikeouts, walked one and hit one before Reed came on in relief to record the final out in the fourth.

Offensive-related highlights in the contest were naturally sparse for the Roadrunners, although Javellas did record the first stolen base in team history in the fourth.

Mullins and Henley were given credit for a two quality at-bats apiece for Pawhuska, while Javellas, Bruce, Gaige Reynolds and Swan each had one quality plate appearance. (To be considered a quality at-bat, the batter must have be productive “in a way that fits the situation,” which means they either got on base, advanced a runner, hit the ball hard or made the pitcher throw extra pitches.)

Bartlesville improved to 3-0 after opening its season Friday with a home win over Enid. The Roadrunners are to play their first home game this week when the Braves visit Pawhuska for a Saturday double-header. Game one is set to begin at noon on the Pawhuska High School diamond. Coaches for the Pawhuska squad are Duane Dagenais, Brian Edwards and Danny Chronister.