Huskie lefty one of top performers for Bruins entry in Koufax tourney

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Huskie lefty one of top performers for Bruins entry in Koufax tourney

For Randsom Jones, the 2015 Sandy Koufax World Series was no a stroll in the park — unless you mean Jurassic Park.

Jones, an incoming freshman at Pawhuska High School, started in the outfield and pitched more than a third of the innings for the tournament’s host team, the Bartlesville Bruins.

Sanctioned by the American Amateur Baseball Congress, the Under-14 championship event concluded August 2 following five days and four nights of high-level competition. The 10 participating teams included seven which had qualified for the event by recently winning regional championships. It was the third consecutive year that Bartlesville’s venerable downtown ball park, Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium, had served as host site for Koufax Series.

Jones pitched a pair of relief innings in both of the Bartlesville team’s tourney appearances. The ever-dependable Pawhuska left-hander struck out four opposing batters and also walked four. He was responsible for getting 13 of the 33 outs that the Bruin pitching staff was able to record in the event. On offense, Jones went two-for-four as a batter, with a single and double He was limited to just one plate appearance in the Bartlesville squad’s Wednesday night opener against the Dallas Tigers, a Texas juggernaut that took home the 2015 Koufax Series title after winning its fifth consecutive tourney game, 13-4, in Sunday’s championship round.

The Bruins were little more than first-round cannon fodder for the hard-swinging Tigers, who claimed a 22-1 triumph. Dallas had batted 14 and scored nine before the Bruins even had need of a batting helmet. The Tiger pitchers retired the home side in order from the first through the third and ended up using three different arms to record a five-inning no-hitter.

Jones was sent to the hill (as in Pork Chop Hill) at the start of the second inning. As the third B’ville pitcher, the crafty southpaw struck out the first Tiger he faced and got the next two to on ground outs. In the top of the third, Jones gave up a leadoff single to the Dallas center fielder, Jayden Woodson. Actually, that was about as good as any pitcher did in the entire Series against Woodson, who went on to be named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player. Versus the Bruins, as the ninth batter in the Tiger lineup versus the Bruins, he produced a single, double and triple in four at-bats with two runs scored and six runs batted in.

By the time the tourney concluded, Woodson’s numbers were staggering: 12 hits in 17 plate appearances for a .706 batting average — with eight singles, three doubles and a triple. Plus, he scored seven runs and had a whopping 14 runs batted in. Woodson’s selection as MVP, as well as for the tourney’s only other individual award (Best Batter) was via unanimous votes, officials said. (Wouldn’t you think that a championship baseball event that’s named after one of the greatest pitchers in Major League history might just have a player award designated for a pitcher?)

After nearly getting out of the third with only one run scored against him, Jones wound touched for three thanks to a Bruin defense that was spotty, at best. Jones was then replaced (not relieved) and another nine-run inning followed in the fourth to put the Texans in front, 21-0. When Bartlesville met the South Troy, N.Y., Dodgers in a Friday elimination game, the first run of the night had a lasting impact on the contest. A South Troy baserunner trying to score from second base on a two-out hit into left field appeared to be out at home after catcher Wesley Yarber fielded an accurate throw from outfielder Michael Marin slightly up the third-base line, resulting in the runner being tagged out two feet from the plate. (NOTE: Marin and Yarber are both from Barnsdall.) The umpire called the runner safe, however, ruling that the basepath had been blocked by the Bruins’ catcher. A subsequent single and two-run double then put New York in front, 3-0.

The Bruins clawed back to get a run on the board in the third before South Troy picked up its fourth run in the lower half of the inning. Jones looped a single into right-center to lead off the Bartlesville fourth but, despite a second single in the inning (by Marin) the Bruins failed to score. The Dodgers added another in the fourth for a 5-1 advantage. Jones doubled down the right-field line to open the sixth and the Bruins made it 5-2 on an RBI single by Charlie Summers. The Bruins left two runners on base in the sixth, just as they had in the fourth.

Jones was sent to the mound (as in Mount Suribachi) for fifth-inning relief. fifth and he fought control problems to escape the inning, despite loading the bases. He nearly survived similar circumstances in the sixth but was sent packing after a catchable two-out fly was allowed to drop in right center — giving the Dodgers a 6-2 edge. Bartlesville managed to cut the deficit to three with a run in the the seventh.

The team Texas beat in the Koufax final, the Nashville Knights, was making its third consecutive appearance in the Bartlesville tourney. Two years ago, current PHS star Caleb Bruce was a member of the Bruin host team that defeated a Chicago-area team in the first round of the Koufax tourney. (Bruce caught Barnsdall lefty James Cole in the opener.) That Bruins’ squad eventually was eliminated from the Series by a controversial, one-run loss to the Nashville Knights.

Bartlesville appeared to have won the 2013 elimination game with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a scorekeeping error was discovered and play was resumed in what was ruled to be a tie game. Nashville eventually won the contest in the 10th inning. One player from that previous Knights’ squad — pitcher/infielder Dominic Pianto — remained on this year’s roster.