When Brooks Lindsay soared a flyball to deep centerfield, it looked like it would be nothing more than a sacrifice fly to move a runner to third.
But in a tied game at 7 in the bottom of the seventh, Shawnee Heights’ right fielder misplayed the ball allowing pinch runner Chad Fiser to come around and break the tie game in walk-off style, 8-7
The Indians kept it going in game two to complete the sweep of the Thunderbirds, 8-1.
MHS (11-3) coach Don Hess said it all came together for them in the seventh inning.
“We had some guys who had some great at-bats, and we were able to pull it off,” he said.
Derek Francis pitched in the first five innings of Game 1, but started to tire in the fourth and just made it through the fifth. With the Indians’ relievers taking over in the sixth, the T-Birds piled on four runs to pull within one run of the 7-6 MHS lead. Shawnee Heights tied the game in the top of the seventh, and the Indians used the error in the bottom of the inning to win the game.
Hess said the game was a mix of good and bad for the Indians, but it equaled out to an important win in terms of league standings and the team’s chances at hosting a regional.
“Derek started to run out of gas in the fourth and was sort of hanging on in the fifth and we didn’t come in and throw very well in relief and that’s something we’re going to have to work on,” Hess said. “We let them back into it with just our shotty pitching, but also we kind of stopped hitting.
“We reverted back to some bad habits that we’ve had where we are hitting fly balls — many to second base or right field. We lost our focus at the plate maybe because it was really easy early on.”
The Indians got the game started early with a groundout from Brooks DeBord that scored Taylor Hilgers and a two-run home run from Lindsay in the first.
Hess said Lindsay, who was hurt in the second game but decided to remain in the game, had a great night.
“Brooks (Lindsay) really caught two phenomenal games and was hurt and caught as well as he did all year,” he said. “What a tough-guy effort he put in out there.”
Chris Turner had a sac fly and Josh Klug and Trey Francis each hit RBI singles in the second. Turner added a sac fly in the third inning, and the Indians went scoreless until the seventh.
The Indians started off hot again in Game 2, as Derek Francis doubled in Hilgers to tie the game at 1-1 in the first, and then DeBord singled in Trey Francis to take the lead. Turner then doubled in Derek Francis and DeBord to put the Indians ahead 4-1.
Hess said they started off both games exactly the way they always hope to.
“We always talk about winning the inning and in both games I think we won the first inning, and that’s huge,” he said. “One, it builds confidence, and two, it gives the pitcher a comfort zone that we were able to work with.”
Manhattan scored four more runs in the fifth, with an RBI single from DeBord, a two-run double from Turner and an RBI single from TJ Giller.
Trey Francis pitched a complete game in the victory with three strikeouts, and recovered from a shaky start that saw him struggle with his control.
Hess said he appeared to get stronger as the game progressed.
“Trey didn’t have his best stuff, he threw over 90 pitches, but he wanted the ball and he wanted to finish, and he’s that kind of competitor,” he said. “There was one 1-2-3 inning that he had that really helped keep the pitch count down and the confidence up.
“Anyone who knows Trey knows he wants to compete, and that’s exactly what we want to see on the mound.”
The Indians will be at home on Tuesday to face Junction City and will finish up the regular season with trips to Hayden and Topeka High.
MHS 8, SHAWNEE HTS 7
Shawnee Heights 1 0 0 0 1 4 1 — 7 13 1
Manhattan 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 — 8 12 1
WP — C. Klug. LP — Ramos
2B — Manhattan 1 (T. Franics). HR — Manhattan 1 (Lindsay).
MHS 8, SHAWNEE HTS 1
Shawnee Heights 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 5 0
Manhattan 4 0 0 0 4 0 X — 8 12 0
WP — T. Francis. LP — Macke.
2B — Manhattan 5 (D. Francis 2, Turner 2, T. Francis).