Ponca baseball tourney runs through Saturday

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Bartlesville’s American Legion Baseball Braves have their Pawhuska companions to lead them across the Osage home prairies for a victory quest at the Ponca City Tournament.

The Patrick McCarty-coached squad will be looking to replicate its feat of 2015, when the Braves advanced undefeated to the PC tourney championship. This year, a deep pitching staff could make the Bartlesville team even more formidable, McCarty said.

Pool play in the four-day Ponca City event starts Wednesday and the United Linen-sponsored Braves are scheduled for a 3 p.m. game. Bartlesville also has the 3 p.m. contest on Thursday. The Braves are to play at 1 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. All of the tournament’s games are scheduled at Ponca City High School, officials said.

Although the Braves dropped both of their outings last week, McCarty pointed out that one of their Thursday contests was against Ada’s 19-and-under Senior AL squad. He said B’ville’s Noah Yearout would be missing for part of the tourney and Barnsdall’s Wesley Yarber will probably no be available at all.

Pawhuska’s Caleb Bruce and Bartlesville’s Lukas Reitfors and Grant Yardley are to be the team’s three primary pitchers for the tourney, according to McCarty. Young lefthander Randsom Jones of Pawhuska is also expected to see action on the mound.

The third Pawhuska player on the Braves’ roster, Colton Hindman, has been given ever-increasing playing time since he received medical clearance following knee surgery. Hindman also is in the team’s pitching rotation.

Earlier this month, the Bartlesville squad swept four straight games in winning a tournament in Garnett, Kan.

In Thursday’s matchups with the visiting Ada squads, hard luck trumped hard hitting by the Braves.

“We hit the ball hard in both games, but most of the time, it was right at somebody,” McCarty said.

PHS senior-to-be Bruce was a member of the runnerup team at the Hartland Classic, a showcase baseball tourney held last Friday through Sunday at Connors State College in Warner.

“He (Bruce) really put on a show,” said McCarty, who coached another of the Hartland all-star teams. “He went three for three in his first game and pitched well in one of the others.”

McCarty said there were numerous college coaches scouting the Classic.

“I think Caleb may have played his way into a scholarship,” McCarty added.

After coaching the past two years at Barnsdall, McCarty will return to Pawhuska as a coach/teacher next fall. His two youngest sons — junior-to-be Payton and freshman Corbyn — are athletically-inclined players for the Braves. And both are expected to be back in Pawhuska schools.

Payton, an all-sport standout, recently underwent major surgery on his shoulder (labrum), however. The second of McCarty’s sons (older brother, Dallas, graduated from PHS in 2012), Payton had injured the shoulder as a freshman, but continued to play sports and bypass the corrective surgery. He is expected to be out of commission until at least 2017 while going through rehabilitative physical therapy.

“Following the surgery, his doctor said it was much worse than they had thought it would be,” coach McCarty said. “I’m really thankful that we’ve had it repaired and Payton will be able to work his way back and resume weight training — which had been impossible because of that injury.”