Pawhuskans supply arms, offense to Braves’ ball team

Mike ErwinJournal Capital

BARTLESVILLE — Pawhuskans Caleb Bruce and Randsom Jones played key roles for the Bartlesville Braves in the American Legion Baseball team’s season-opening series at Doenges Memorial Stadium.

Bruce hit safely in all six plate appearances and was the starting pitcher in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader with the Ada Athletic’s. Jones pitched four strong innings of relief and knocked in a pair of runs in game two.

Bartlesville went in front with a run in the bottom of the first inning of the first contest, as Bruce ripped an opposite-field single that knocked home Grant Yardley. Three Brave errors allowed Ada to take a 2-1 advantage in the third and a three-run double put the A’s ahead, 5-1, in the fourth.

Although all of the Ada runs were unearned, lefthander Jones was summoned from the B’ville bullpen to replace Bruce on the mound. Jones, who recently completed an impressive freshman season at Pawhuska High School, gave up just two hits over the final three frames, while striking out three and walking one. He hit the first batter he faced in the fifth before picking off the A’s runner with a quick pickoff toss to the first baseman of the Braves, Payton McCarty.

The hosts scored three times in the sixth to cut the deficit from five runs to two. An RBI single by Hominy’s Colt Wilson and a two-rin single by Yardley made it a 6-4 contest. After Jones pitched around a one-out error in the seventh, McCarty beat out an infield single to twice bring the tying run to the plate in Bartlesville’s final turn at-bat. But, a strikeout and a lineout ended the Braves’ chances.

Ada plated seven runs in the top of the second inning to doomed the hosts in game two of the doubleheader. Bartlesville grabbed a four-run lead in the bottom of the first before sloppy fielding fueled the second-inning A’s outburst. The Braves spent the rest of the afternoon trying, unsuccessfully, to catch back up.

Bruce got the home squad’s offense rolling in the second with a one-out double into the gap in left-center field. An RBI single by Lukas Reitfors started a string of five straight hits that included a two-run blast high over the right fielder by Jones and singles by Payton McCarty , Noah Yearout and Wesley Yarber.

Seven straight Ada batters reached base and scored in the top of the second. A pair of Braves’ errors opened the pivotal frame, while a third miscue allowed the seventh A’s run to score after three singles, a walk and a ground-rule double. Bartlesville got out of the inning via a slick double play. Second baseman Wilson fielded a grounder and flipped to shortstop Bruce, who completed the DP with a throw to McCarty at first.

The home team missed an opportunity to reduce the 7-4 deficit in the bottom half of the second. Base hits by Yardley and Bruce put runners at second and third with none out, but they remained stranded following a comebacker to the pitcher and two strikeouts.

Two Braves crossed the plate in the third to cut the Ada advantage to one run, 7-6. Consecutive singles by Barnsdall’s Yarber, Wilson and Bruce sparked the two-out rally, with Wilson and Bruce driving in the runs.

Bartlesville also managed a pair of singles in the sixth, only to have both runners put out at second base — the first after making too wide of a turn and the other on a force play off a deflected grounder. In the seventh, McCarty drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a close play at first base for out number two. The game ended on a strikeout.

Braves’ righthander Chance Perry permitted just one hit outside of the second inning. The lanky Welch High School product struck out five Ada batters, walked one and hit another.

Five errors negated superior hitting by the Bartlesville squad, with rapped out a dozen hits compared to five for Ada. Bruce collected four hits in the second game and finished the day a perfect six-for-six at the plate, with two RBI and a run scored.

The A’s and Braves were supposed to have played in Ada, but recent rains there caused rescheduling of the contests to Bartlesville.

On Thursday night, the squads split a season-starting twin-bill played at the nearby Bartlesville Baseball Association fields. The Braves won the opener, 6-2, but Ada took the nightcap, 3-0. Bartlesville’s first run crossed the plate when Payton McCarty drove home his younger brother, Corbyn McCarty, who entered the game as a courtesy runner for Isaiah Messner. Messner, the Braves’ catcher, had lined a single up the middle.

Lukas Rietfors earned Bartlesville’s pitching victory in game one. Third-baseman Bruce started a double play with second-sacker Wilson making the pivot throw to McCarty at first. Bruce handled the catching duties in game two, when Taylor Cobb pitched for the Braves.

Patrick McCarty is head coach of the United Linen-sponsored Braves’ squad. McCarty has coached at Barnsdall High School the past two years, but was recently hired by the Pawhuska School District — where he had spent the previous five years.

PHS senior-to-be Colton Hindman also is a member of Bartlesville’s 17-and-under Legion squad. Hindman has been unable to play, thus far, however, as he is awaiting official medical release following knee surgery earlier this year. That release is expected soon for Hindman, the starting quarterback of the Huskies’ football team.