After losing three straight in Oklahoma City this past weekend, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers were in need of tonight’s game in Topeka.
The 17ers will look to break their three-game skid against the Johnson County Hornets in a nine-inning game at Hummer Sports Park. The teams are meeting halfway to ease travel.
Manhattan is off to a 5-6 start this season, with a loss in the championship game of the summer-opening Tournament of Champions in Manhattan.
17ers’ coach Luke Snyder said that’s the team he wants to see more of this summer.
“I like the team I watched in the TOC,” he said. “We handled ourselves well, we played pretty good baseball that entire weekend, even when we made mistakes we were able to put those behind us and more forward. This last weekend we let mistakes pile up on us, and one mistake led to another. Those are the types of things that we need to avoid. We just have to continue to progress.”
The 5-6 start for Manhattan is a far cry from the 0-8 start the 17ers got off to last season, getting swept out of each of their first two tournaments, including the TOC.
Snyder said the team can continue to improve as the summer progresses, but those improvements will have to start with pitching.
“Our starting pitching hasn’t been good enough,” he said. “We’ve thrown way too many pitches, we’ve giving away way too many walks, and that hurts. We’ve had games this year where we’ve given up three hits, but five walks. We have to be consistent on the mound and it starts with our starting pitching.
“Our pitching staff is good, we just haven’t really proved that yet. We have guys that have been successful and are capable of being successful, we just have to prove it.”
Behind the pitching, in the field, have also been difficulties. The 17ers allowed errors to play a part in their three losses in Oklahoma, and Snyder said the struggles on the mound contributed to it.
“It’s a double-edged sword because when you’re pitching the ball well, your fielders are involved,” he said. “When a lot of pitches are being thrown and walks are made, that’s when fielders get on their heels and that’s when you see mistakes happen.”
When the struggles on the mound and in the field combine, that’s when teams score runs in bunches against the 17ers. And that’s what happened this past weekend.
“This weekend, in three games, twice we gave up seven run innings, and that kills you,” Snyder said. “One mistake can’t turn into two, three and four mistakes. We have to be mentally tough enough to put it behind us and move on to the next pitch.”
The 17ers will be back on the road for a tournament this weekend when they take part in the KU Team Camp Showcase. Snyder said he didn’t recognize any of the teams they would be playing, and he said it gives the team a good chance to see more fresh competition.