Doenges Ford Indians start grueling second week

Mike Tupa
Payton McCarty

Coming off a break-even weekend in Branson, Mo., the Bartlesville Doenges Ford Indians are taking sight of grueling second week that has eight games scheduled from Tuesday through Saturday.

No doubt that Pawhuska High School’s Caleb Bruce will get a pitching nod during that ordeal of endurance.

Indian head coach Anthoney Towers this week named Bruce as one of his top throwers during the early part of the season — a season full of opportunity and insight.

The Indians (8-4-1) — which finished 2-2-1 in a major American Legion Baseball tournament in Branson — were slated to travel Tuesday to Pittsburg (Kan.), for a doubleheader.

The next night, Three Rivers will invade Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium for the Indians’ first scheduled home date since June 3.

The tribe is slated to finish out the week with back-to-back home doubleheaders Friday and Saturday against the Ada Braves.

The Doenges lads are 4-0 at home and 4-4-1 on the road.

During the first 13 games, the Indians have displayed solid pitching but their offense has been like a rolling ocean tide — sometimes rolling out to its potential and sometimes drawing back.

Fourth-year Indian pitcher Corey Murphy “is our returning ace,” said Towers.

Nolan Schaper and Zach Snow — also Doenges Ford veterans — are giving each other a run for the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

Towers also pointed to a significant mound contribution by Bruce.

“We’re pretty set for the one, two, three and four spots,” the coach added. “You don’t always get that. All of our pitchers are going to push each other to get better. All of them are already giving each other a hard time about who’s going to have a better record. I like to see that.”

They experienced a roller-coaster ride of production at Branson — suffering a shutout loss but scoring 19 runs in their final two contests.

They opened up the tourney with a one-run loss to Springfield Kickapoo, 4-3, but came back to bounce the Blazers, 5-1.

On the second day, Willard blanked the Indians, 10-0, but in the nightcap, Bartlesville squeezed past Carl Junction, 11-10.

Bruce threw a shutout inning to earn the save. Of his 21 pitches, 16 were strikes.

In their lone game Saturday, the Indians tied Ozark, 8-8.

During this young season — which is just 10 days old today — the Indians had scored double-digit runs in four contests and have been held three times to two runs or fewer.

Indian veteran Corey Murphy swung a mighty bat in Branson, hammering out a .500 batting average (6-for-12), with five RBIs.

Dustin Weiesnbach batted .438 (7-for-16), with five RBIs and four runs scored.

John Cone contributed a .429 average (6-for-14), with three RBIs and four runs.

Brennan Longacre earned six walks, but boasted the highest batting average (.667, 4-for-6) in limited at-bats. He scored five times and ripped an inside-the-park homer to drive in three runs.

For the past nine games, Murphy is hitting .500 (8-for-16) and Weiesnbach is batting .429 (12-for-28).

Longacre hit .636 during that same period (7-for-11) and tied with Zach Snow and Cone for the most walks (seven).

Pawhuska’s other representative on the Indians is Payton McCarty, who has brought a solid effort, as well.

During an 8-8 tie Saturday against Ozark (Mo.), McCarty drew a walk and scored a crucial run.

Overall, the Indians’ offense has been like a rolling ocean tide — sometimes rolling out to its potential and sometimes drawing back to just a trickle.

When the Indian bats are are clicking in sync, the team is very, very explosive. Through their first 12 games they scored in double figures four times.

But, they’ve also suffered two shutout losses.

“I think what we need to do better is capitalize with runners on base,” Towers said. “We’re leaving to many ducks on the pond.”

Overall, “I’m excited about how the season is going so far,” the coach summarized. “We have only a few returners but the young guys up from the Braves and the new ones from out of town are all meshing well. … It’s almost as if they grew up playing baseball with each other.”

After grinding through their June schedule, the Indians will try to defend their Glen Winget Memorial Tournament title won last year. The tourney is set for July 1-4 at Doenges Stadium.

The Indians haven’t won back-to-back Winget titles since 1993-94.

The tourney began in 1959 and has taken place every year except 1963. In 2007, the Winget tourney began but was flooded out about halfway through the games.