Just a season ago, the Manhattan High baseball team made a doubleheader against Highland Park a home-run derby of sorts at Tointon Family Stadium.
But an improved Scots team made a run at the Indians on Tuesday at Norvell Field, as MHS battled to sweep Highland Park 7-1 and 5-2.
The Indians opened the first game with a first-inning run and led 2-0 after three innings.
The Scots pulled within a run at 2-1 in the fourth inning, but the Indians scored five runs in the next three innings to put the game away.
The game was backed by a strong pitching performance from senior Derek Francis, who pitched five of the seven innings.
“Derek threw really well the first game, which was really nice to see,” MHS coach Don Hess said. “We were trying to limit his pitch count and he stepped up and threw really well.”
The Indians started Bret Fehr in game two, and ended up using three sophomore pitchers before bringing in TJ Giller to close out the game.
Hess said they used the game as an opportunity to get the sophomore pitchers some more experience on the mound.
“The second game we threw three sophomores out there and we told them they come under fire now,” he said. “And there are things that now that they have experience, we have to work on.”
Hess said they didn’t intend to pitch Giller, but said he did a good job of getting them out of a bind.
“We really didn’t want to throw him, but we were throwing so much youth out there we felt like we needed to throw someone out there that had experience and had been there before because at the time it was only a two-run game,” he said.
Hess acknowledged they struggled at the plate at times during the game, but said they are still working to get better, and knows they have the potential to get hot at any time.
“I think we are still trying to figure out roles and we are getting base hits,” he said. “We just aren’t stringing them together, we are still working on the offensive side.”
Hess said after the game he even mentioned to the Highland Park coaches that the team has gotten much better over the past few seasons.
“They played hard and they have just gotten better and better every year for the last three,” he said. “They showed up and made us earn it, and all the respect to them for making us play a little bit harder.”
The Indians will head out on the road on Thursday for a doubleheader against Topeka West at Hummer Sports Park.
MHS 7, HIGHLAND PARK 1
Highland Park 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 — 1 3 0
Manhattan 1 0 1 2 1 2 X — 7 7 0
WP — D. Francis. LP — Salus.
MHS 5, HIGHLAND PARK 2
Highland Park 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 2 4 0
Manhattan 0 0 1 2 1 1 X — 5 11 0
WP — Fehr. LP — Johnson.