LAWRENCE — Olathe South defeated Manhattan 10-3 in the consolation game of the Class 6A state baseball tournament at Hoglund Ballpark on Saturday. And while the Indians were disappointed with the day’s results, Don Hess remained proud of his team.
“It was a great season,” the Manhattan head coach said. “To be 19-6 and finish fourth in the state is something we need to be real proud of. Obviously, we didn’t have our best effort today and I’m real sorry about that.
“But I hope when we step away and look at the season as a whole we’ll come to the same conclusion that we achieved a lot in a lot of great areas. I’m real proud of the effort from the beginning all the way to the end.”
The Indians struggled in the third inning of both games on Saturday. Blue Valley North used a seven-run third to defeat Manhattan 11-0 in the semifinal game, sending the Indians to the consolation contest, where a nine-run third proved to be too costly to overcome.
Olathe South, the No. 3 seed, sent 14 men to the plate in the third. Perhaps the most frustrating part for Manhattan was the self-inflicted mistakes it made in the inning. The Falcons (20-5) scored nine runs on just five hits in the bottom-half of the inning, as Manhattan committed four errors, uncorked four wild pitches and issued three walks.
“At one time I think they’d scored two runs and only had one ball leave the infield,” Hess said. “It’s characteristic of some of the things that we’ve done from time to time during the year — throwing too many pitches, walking too many people — walks coupled with errors. That kind of put us in a hole and for whatever reason today we just weren’t able to stop the bleeding. We just didn’t have any answers and to (Olathe South’s) credit they kept the pressure on and made us pay for every mistake.”
The Indians, who had just taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, could have been out of the inning with minimal damage if it weren’t for the mistakes. Manhattan starting pitcher Jacob Biller struck out Daniel Lewis to start the inning. The ensuing hitter, Matthew Elliott, reached on an error. And with Manhattan leading 2-1, another error on a wild throw to first allowed Olathe South to tie the game. The Falcons made the Indians pay, as four out of their next six batters recorded RBI singles.
“We just weren’t very sharp in some areas and we paid for it,” Hess said.
The Indians threatened to rally in the fourth, loading the bases and forcing Olathe South to go to the bullpen with two outs. But Jacob Priddle flew out to center on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
Brooks DeBord went 2-for-3 at the plate, including a two-run double for the Indians. Derek Francis recorded two singles while Brooks Lindsay and Chris Turner each reached base three times.
Ethan Fabrizius, a sophomore right-hander, was solid in relief for the Indians, allowing just one run over the final 3 1/3 innings.
While Manhattan would have rather been playing for the first-place trophy Saturday evening, Hess doesn’t want his players — particularly his nine seniors — to forget about the success they had both this season and in their careers.
“Some of the seniors have been in the state tournament two out of the last three years and have been a part of three really, really great teams,” Hess said. “It would have been nice to have the state championship but they still accomplished a lot. A lot of them are going to go on and play baseball and accomplish a lot more.
“We’re real proud of the effort they brought to our program and the way they represented themselves.
“We’re sorry to see them go. They provided some leadership for a young team. We had a lot of young guys get some experience and I hope that they’ve learned something from the players that have led them. Hopefully they’re hungry to get back here and accomplish the same types of things and that they’ll work hard in the offseason to get better as individuals and as a team.”
BLUE VALLEY NORTH 11, MANHATTAN 0
Blue Valley North erupted for seven runs in the third inning and added four more over the next two frames to run-rule Manhattan 11-0 in five innings in the semifinals of the Class 6A state tournament Saturday morning.
The Mustangs, the No. 8 seed, sent 12 batters to the plate in the third inning, knocking Manhattan starting pitcher Trey Francis from the game with one out in the inning and the Indians trailing 3-0.
T.J. Giller relieved Francis, but failed to record an out. Giller walked the first man he faced before Hunter Kennon reached on an infield hit to shortstop to load the bases. Giller then hit No. 9 hitter Cooper Curran on the first pitch of the at bat to force in a run, and followed that up with a four-pitch walk to make the score 5-0.
The Indians went to the bullpen once again, bringing in sophomore Chris Klug. Phillip Woodward lined the first pitch he saw from Klug into center for a RBI single. Matthew McHugh, the Mustangs’ No. 3 hitter, added another RBI single to center to make it 7-0.
Blue Valley North added three runs in the fourth and another run in the fifth to push its lead out to 11-0. Manhattan tried to battle back, but left the bases loaded in both the third and fourth innings.
The Mustangs, who left 12 runners on base, finished the game with 15 hits — 14 of which came in the final three innings. Thomas Joyce pitched all five innings for Blue Valley North, allowing just three hits.
Hess said a large part of the Indians’ problems were because of their own miscues.
“We ended up with six walks and two hit batters and you don’t have to look too much further than that,” the Manhattan head coach said. “Then we had some defensive issues that compounded those mistakes. The third facet of that is we had some baserunners in the middle innings and couldn’t come up with the big hit to score anybody. And it just kind of snowballed on us.
“Blue Valley North played well and we just didn’t for whatever reason.”