Huskie players come up big in Braves’ win over Indians

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

BARTLESVILLE — The Bartlesville Braves were very workmanlike in Saturday’s American Legion Baseball triumph over the Shawnee Mission North Indians.

Even the final score was blue-collar — 8 to 5 — in a midday game at Doenges Memorial Stadium.

A trio of Pawhuska Huskies played major roles for the victors, who rallied from an early three-run deficit to defeat the visiting Kansas squad. Caleb Bruce earned the Braves’ pitching win, while Randsom Jones collected the go-ahead RBI and Colton Hindman smacked a three-run double that paved way to the victory.

Other Osage County players provided some key support. Hominy’s Colt Williams drove home the first Bartlesville run and Corbin McCarty of Barnsdall had a hit in the crucial fourth inning, when the Braves scored seven times.

The Bartlesville squad is coached by Barnsdall’s Patrick McCarty, a once and future teacher/coach at Pawhuska, with the assistance of Drew Anthony, another Barnsdall product.

So far this summer, the Braves are undefeated in tournament action — having gone undefeated en route to tourney titles in Garnett, Kan., and Ponca City. They will be hoping to keep that record intact late next week during the American Legion Baseball AAA state tournament in Comanche. Bartlesville’s first game in the state event will be Friday, July 22.

McCarty said the game with Shawnee Mission had been scheduled only 15 hours earlier. He was contacted by the coach of the Indians, who were staying overnight following a Friday night doubleheader with Bartlesville’s Doenges Ford Indians — a team in American Legion Baseball’s Majors Division.

Taking the field for the first time in eight days, the Braves got off to a slow start Saturday. A high throw on a routine grounder allowed the Indians’ leadoff man to reach base. Bruce walked the second batter before the Kansans scored their initial run off a one-out double. A passed ball and wild pitch delivered two more runs to give Shawnee Mission a 3-0 lead.

Wilson singled to open the Bartlesville first, but was left stuck on third with the bases loaded. The Braves stranded seven runners in the three early innings, although Wilson got them on the scoreboard in the second by smashing a triple over the left fielder to drive in Edward Burke, who had been hit by a pitch.

After the shaky first, Bruce pitched four hitless innings in which only one Indian batter got on base (he reached on an infield error). The Pawhuska righthander recorded five strikeouts. He was relieved after walking his second batter of the contest with two out in the sixth inning. In all, Bruce threw 108 pitches, including 39 in the opening frame. (He needed only six pitches in the fourth and just 10 in the second, however.)

The Braves took control of the contest by plating seven in the bottom of the fourth. Their winning rally had a humble beginning, as Wilson reached base on a throwing error by the Shawnee shortstop. After the next batter was hit with a pitch, Bruce ripped a hard grounder to short and another throwing error resulted — which sent home two runs and tied the contest at 3 runs apiece.

Three straight walks followed, the last of those being drawn by Jones. It forced in the fourth Braves’ run and set the stage for Hindman’s offensive heroics. His double came on a 1-0 count and following three consecutive walks. The high-velocity low line drive kicked up a plume of chalk as it hooked the left-field foul line.

When the Indians’ left fielder could not haul in a shot off the bat of the next batter (Burke), Hindman came home with a head-first slide to account for the Braves’ eighth (and final) run. Hindman, who also beat out an infield single in the sixth, showed no ill effects from January knee surgery.

One week earlier, Bartlesville secured the Ponca City Tournament championship for the second year in a row. After advancing unbeaten through the tourney, the Braves were brought back to earth by consecutive one-run losses against Ponca’s top American Legion squad — 1-0 and 3-2.

“We had opportunities to win those games,” said McCarty. “Both times, their winning run scored on passed balls.”

The Braves were awarded the PC tournament crown after winning contests by the scores of 9-0 and 8-1.