In Friday’s doubleheader with Hayden in Topeka, offense was not the issue for either team.
Instead it was the pitcher’s who were scrambling to adjust, especially in the first game of the doubleheader that saw Hayden squeak out a 13-12 victory. In the second game, Manhattan got a solid effort from sophomore starter Jesse Steinbring to end with a 5-4 win in a shortened game.
The second game was called by the umpires after it was determined it was too dark to play. Hayden doesn’t have lights on its field.
“It’s a little bit of a frustrating game in that it ended after five innings because they don’t have lights,” Hess said. “We went into the game knowing we probably wouldn’t get a complete game in, and it’s frustrating because if you fall behind, you run short of opportunities to come back.
“It’s fair for both teams — it’s just unfortunate because baseball is meant to be a seven-inning game, not five.”
The first game’s hit parade may have had something to do with the lack of daylight in the second game. Manhattan finished with 17 hits, with the Wildcats adding 10 of their own.
MHS scored six runs in the top of the first only to see Hayden answer with four against Indian starter Jacob Biller. Chris Klug came on in relief in the second inning and was more effective, but the Wildcats would take the lead with five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Manhattan scored two in the top of the seventh, but ended on a flyout.
Overall, Indians coach Don Hess was pleased with the way his team swung the bat all day. Everyone in his lineup had at least one hit in the first game, with 8 of 9 hitters recording base hits in the second game.
“The story with that game, was we hit really well, and we had some defensive miscues that probably cost us,” Hess said. “But bottom line was, we didn’t pitch well enough to win. We started off really impressively, we came out and scored six runs that first inning and it was line drive after line drive. We kept hitting, but we didn’t do as good a job on the mound as we needed to be successful.”
Bret Fehr, Biller and Jake Priddle all had three hits apiece for Manhattan in the first game, with Priddle hitting a double and a triple with two RBIs. Fehr, Biller, Michael Leeper each had doubles.
In the second game, hits were harder to come by, in part because of Steinbring. The sophomore went all five innings and gave up just three hits, finally ending the game on a double play after a pair of errors in the inning made it a one-run game.
“After the first inning, he settled in and really threw a nice game for us,” Hess said. “We had a couple errors there in the last inning to put guys on base, but Jesse kept doing what he needed to do and finally we were able to turn a double play and win it.”
Hess said Steinbring, the only sophomore on the varsity roster, has the chance to keep pitching in important games for the Indians.
“Anytime you have a sophomore, you try and move them along slowly, because we feel like we have some older guys who are capable as well,” he said. “But if Jesse or any other young player steps up and can contribute, they’ll find their way onto the field and so far Jesse hasn’t done anything to disappoint us out on the mound, and we’re going to continue to throw him out there. He’s been more than ready and capable.”
Hess was still pleased with the way his lineup produced against Hayden in the second game, even if there weren’t as many runs scored.
“We had some innings where we didn’t swing at the best pitches and our discipline wasn’t as good as it needed to be, but we kept swinging,” he said. “The fact that we’re getting production up and down the lineup is really a nice thing for us. We don’t have any glaring weaknesses — everybody’s contributing.”
Manhattan travels to Topeka West for a doubleheader on Tuesday.