Indians finish second in own annual tournament

School of the Osage had its chances.

The Indians took on Dixon in the championship game of their own annual Wood Bat Tournament and after cruising by Richland 13-0 and Versailles 11-4, that game-tying run remained elusive as Osage fell to the Bulldogs 4-3 in the title game on a chilly Saturday night.

It was a pitcher’s duel and on one side stood Osage’s Drake Gaines who struck out 12 batters while walking two and allowing four hits in six innings. On the other side was Dixon’s Braden Mahurin who also retired 12 batters through strikeouts while allowing six hits and a single walk in his five and two-thirds innings of work.

In the end, Mahurin narrowly came out on top to give the Bulldogs their ninth straight Osage Wood Bat Title.

“Hats off to 14, he pitched a heck of a game,” Osage coach David Flaspohler said of Richland pitcher Braden Mahurin who kept seven Indians stranded on base. “You like to see those and that means both teams are competing. It is just a matter of making a small adjustment and kind of being selfless when you are at the plate.

“Just go ahead and poke one to the right side, go up the middle with it and let the barrel do the work. If we can figure that out as a team, then they are going to go a long ways.”

Osage certainly seemed to have it figured out in the first two contests.

The Indians opened up against Richland Friday night and got to work immediately as they poured on eight runs in the first inning alone and finished it out with the mercy rule by the fifth inning. The bats of Andrew Bryant, Braden McLaughlin, Austin Magnuson, Michael Lasater, Dalton Depeé and Gaines were effective from the start as they all produced RBIs in the first. The Indians finished with eight total hits and Bryant and McLaughlin led the way with two RBIs each.

Osage pitcher Trey Rassenfoss picked up the win, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and walking one in three innings of work. Isaac Yoder completed the shutout, keeping Richland hitless the rest of the way while striking out three in two innings.

In the second contest, Osage opened up a 4-0 lead on Versailles and the Tigers managed to pull within 5-3 before the Indians added plenty of insurance runs in the sixth and innings.

Osage finished with 14 total hits as Traygen Whittle, Austin Magnuson and Andrew Bryant all finished with multiple hits. Yoder, Rassenfoss, Bryant and McLaughlin also produced RBIs as well. On the mound, Depeé found his groove with six strikeouts while allowing six hits in his six and two-thirds innings of work.

Last but not least, the finale saw Dixon take an early 1-0 lead after the first inning before Osage recaptured the advantage with two runs in the third. However, the Bulldogs stormed back with three runs in the bottom of the third and that proved to be enough as the Indians would only add one more run the rest of the evening.

Although Osage came up a little short, Flaspohler was pleased with what he saw from his club as they fought until the last out. Gaines, Lasater, Bryant Rassenfoss, McLaughlin and Depeé all produced one hit and the bats of Gaines and Whittle each collected an RBI.

“In four games we have scored 38 runs so our bats are coming alive and finally clicking. We are starting to put some swings together and kind of stringing something together and playing together,” Flaspohler remarked.

The coach was also pleased with the arm of Gaines as he threw all six innings and did his part to allow the team to stay in it and keep the title hopes within reach.

“He was throwing it up and pitching it well so we are proud of him,” the coach said. “Being as cold as it is, it is tough to pitch like that and he came through for us.”

After chopping the deficit down to a single run in the fifth, Osage had runners in scoring position twice with a chance to tie it before Dixon managed to record the final out.

“We’ll do it over and over again,” Flaspohler said of having the chance to tie it or take the lead. “Some days the result will be the same and some days it will change. But the fact that they did not give up and had a lot of heart, they stayed with it. Their demeanor tonight and the whole weekend, I am just very proud of them.”

The good news is that there are plenty of games left to be played. With the weather not being so cooperative to start the year, Flaspohler said that his club and the other three teams were just glad to have a chance to play. The coach is hoping that trend will continue with three conference games next week.

“The other teams were appreciative because this spring has just not been conducive for a warm weather period, or getting any games in,” the coach noted. “A lot of us have only gotten two or three in before this tournament so it was good to finally get some good ball in.”

Up next for Osage (3-4) is a trip to rival Eldon Monday night for another conference battle. The Indians and Mustangs will face off at 4:30 p.m., and the coach said good trips to the plate will certainly be needed.

“That will be our second conference game and I’m sure we are going to see Drew Rodriguez on the mound,” Flaspohler said. “We are going to have to put some sticks together and have some quality at-bats. If we go deep in the count on him and chase him out early, I like our chances.”