Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle

Jeremy Gaston | Sports Editor

KANSAS CITY—It was a last minute opportunity, but Osage City jumped right on it.

West Franklin County High School, who was scheduled to open the Indians season today in Pomona, asked the Indians if they would be interested in playing the season opener at Community America Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones minor league baseball team.

The team, members of the community and local businesses rallied together to bring the opportunity to life. Just a couple weeks later, Osage City senior Jake McFarland delivered the opening pitch from the T-Bones infield.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Osage City Head Coach Matt Marple. “It’s a beautiful field and set up. Those kids will remember that for life.”

The Indians made the trip with neighboring West Franklin, splitting games with the Falcons in a 4-3 loss and a 16-6 win.

Jake McFarland pitched a complete game in the opener, facing 26 batters with 6 hits, 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.

“He took a hard loss,” Marple said. “Those are the ones you hate to lose. He had them off balance all night. We should have had a win but didn’t.”

Osage City bounced back in the second game with a 16-6 win. Pitching remained consistent, with C.J. Marple delivering 7 hits, 5 strikeouts and 2 walks against 24 batters, but the Indians’ hitting picked up considerably.

“We played much better,” Marple said. “It just took some timely hitting.”

Jake McFarland paved the way, converting his only hit of the night on an infield grand slam, hitting the back fence of a deep outfield. He led the team on the evening with 6 RBIs.

Tracer Paul was consistent at the plate, hitting 5 for 8 on the night with a walk; Marple was 3 for 8 with a walk; and Dalton Swindale had a double and a triple in the second game.

“We did play better defense,” Marple said. “Trey Fort had two stellar plays at third. With sophomores at third, shortstop and second, our infield defense was really pretty good.

“Zane Martin was also solid in the outfield,” Marple added. “He really ran the alleys well, and got to every ball I’d expect him to get to. He might have found him a spot in center.”

Despite the solid win in the nightcap, Marple still would have liked to take home two wins.

“We’re beyond the moral victory,” Marple said. “Coming back in the second game showed some resolve, but as the reigning champs, you hate to lose any against league competition.

“The great thing about baseball is sometimes the better team doesn’t win,” Marple said. “I felt that way in the first game. Jake pitched a great game, we made some defensive plays, but a walk at the wrong times and it jumps up and bites you. That’s why baseball’s a great sport.”

The 1-1 finish was good enough for the Indians to remain focused on the experience.

“It was a little surreal sitting in the stands,” Marple said. “For some of the sophomores, it was the first baseball they played at the varsity level, and it was in that atmosphere against a great team. It was a lot of fun.”

Although Coach Marple will be retiring from the team after this season, he hopes the Indians will make a tradition of opening the season at the ballpark.

“I’d like it to be something we continue,” Marple said. “You’ve got to hand it to the community. Without them, we couldn’t have done this. The kids will have memories forever of that park on that night. It was very worthwhile.”

The Indians will play Council Grove at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at home.