DEWEY — Eight was an unfortunate number for the Pawhuska Huskies in their high school baseball season-opener on Monday.
The Huskies lost by eight runs, 11-3, to the Dewey Bulldoggers — who currently are the No. 8 team in the Class 4A state rankings. Dewey collected eight hits and took an 8-0 lead with a major uprising in the bottom of the third inning. Pawhuska, which competes at the 3A state level in baseball, was able to get on the board in its final at-bat.
PHS entered the contest off only a couple of team practices, coach Brian Edwards said. As most of the players in the Huskie starting lineup are coming out of either basketball or wrestling, the lingering winter weather had recently made the PHS field off-limits for workouts. The diamond conditions forced the cancellation of games scheduled last Thursday through Saturday.
The host Bulldoggers, meanwhile, came into Monday’s with a 2-0 mark following early triumphs over Oologah, by a 7-2 score, and Vinita, 8-7. A year ago, Dewey advanced to the state quarterfinals and major components remain from that team.
“Here we go, ready or not,” said Edwards, shortly before the game commenced.
Tyler Culver of Pawhuska collected the first hit of the game when he lined a crisp two-out single in the first. The Huskies were kept in check, however, by the ace righthander of the Doggers, Carson Larue — who struck out five PHS batters before he was removed from the hill after 1 2/3 innings of work.
Larue, who has signed to pitch collegiately for Oklahoma State University, remained in the game at second base and helped turn a rally-killing double play against the Huskies in the third. Dalton Hayden pitched three innings of quality relief, but yielded to Dewey lefthander Jenson Street for the final out of the fifth inning.
Senior righthander Kendall Oller started for PHS and was solid over the first 2 1/3 innings as he struck out four and gave up four hits while walking four batters and hitting two with pitches. Culver, the ace hurler of the Huskies, came on to finish out the contest and recorded six strikeouts in only 1 2/3 innings.
One batter reached base for the Doggers when a third strike eluded the PHS catcher. Dewey finished with eight hits, but at least two of those should have been handled. Pawhuska further helped the Doggers’ cause by committing four fielding errors while issuing six bases on balls and hitting three batters with pitches.
The Huskies scored all of their runs in the top of the fifth when they collected three of their four hits for the contest. Following a leadoff single by Oller, sophomore Gage Dagenais drew a one-out walk — which was his second free-pass of the game.
Zalin Edwards followed with a clean RBI single to left which skipped past the Dewey outfielder and allowed Dagenais to come home with a second Huskie run. After two were out in the inning, Kylar Moody knocked a single up the middle to bring in Edwards with the third Pawhuska run. In the fourth inning, Bryce Wilson walked with two out and stole a base — the first of the season for the Huskies.
Michael McCurdy belted three hits for the hosts, including a game-ending 340-foot home run to lead off the Dewey fifth. Two innings earlier, McCurdy rapped a full-count pitch for an RBI triple that launched the seven-run Dogger outburst. McCurdy also singled and scored Dewey’s first run after two were out in the second inning when an Oller pitch clipped an opposing batter with the bases loaded.
After the game ended, the PHS coach expressed concerns about tightening the Huskie defense.
“Once we get a few practices in, I think everything will be all right,” Edwards said. “Definitely, this was a tough place to start the year, but now we’ve just got to move on.”
The Pawhuska baseball squad will be leaving town this weekend for a Spring Break trip to Gulf Shores, Ala., and are expecting to play exhibition games along the way against some area teams.
When the Huskies return, they are to open their home season on Monday, March 24, with a 4:30 showdown with the Pawnee Black Bears. Later that week, they are to travel to Bartlesville for a meeting with the Wesleyan Christian School Mustangs.
Pawhuska’s April schedule begins with a 5 p.m. home showdown against the Blackwell Maroons on Tuesday, April 1. Also in the Huskie varsity lineup for the season opener was the senior trio of shortstop Taylor Priest, Donovan Guy (at third base) and outfielder Connor McNeil, as well as PHS junior Hayden Javellas.
Dewey 11, Pawhuska 3
Huskies: 0 - 0 - 0 0 - 3 — 3
Bulldoggers: 0 - 1 - 7 2 - 1 — 11
Batteries: Pitchers Carson Larue, Dalton Hayden (2), Jenson Street (5) and catcher Trevor Hudgens for Dewey; Pitchers Kendall Oller, Tyler Culver (3) and catcher Zalin Edwards for Pawhuska.