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Junior 17ers lose two in Salina

By Brady Bauman

The American Legion Manhattan Manko junior 17ers fell Friday and Saturday in the 23rd Annual Kansas Grand Slam Wood Bat Tournament in Salina.

Manhattan dropped Friday’s contest against the Salina Eagles 10-2 in five innings and lost again Saturday afternoon to the Topeka Scrappers 9-2.

“It was a disappointing tournament for us as a team this weekend,” Manhattan head coach Dan Rumsey said. “We struggled to produce with the wood bats, but the team continued to show heart by competing in every at bat in every game.”

The 17ers struggled for hits in Game 1 and a six-run bottom of the second by the Eagles put Manhattan in the rear-view mirror early.

Jake Olson connected on a double and also posted an RBI for Manhattan, but only Eric Prockish and Luke Stegeman would add additional hits for the 17ers.

On the mound, Nathan Kordyak got the starting nod for Manhattan, but it was brief start after Salina dropped its six-spot. Jace Priddle finished out the second inning and pitched until the contest was called after the fifth. In 2 2/3 innings, Priddle gave up four runs — two earned — on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

“Our pitching continues to improve, and (assistant) coach (Dillon) Mack keeps reiterating the importance of first-pitch strikes and how it can influence a greater advantage for our pitchers,” Rumsey said. “The pitching staff has adopted this as their own philosophy, but need to execute it at a higher percentage in order to be more successful on the mound.”

In Saturday’s loss to the Scrapers, big innings from the opposition again doomed the 17ers. Topeka opened with three runs to start the game and a four-run top of the fourth extended their lead. The Scrappers also outhit Manhattan 12-3.

Ian Hart had two of those hits for Manhattan. Hart was 2 for 3 with a double, run scored, an RBI and a walk. Josh Chapman had the 17ers’ other RBI.

Kordyak again got the starting nod Saturday. He tossed four innings and gave up seven runs — just three of them earned — on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He was relieved by Priddle once again. Priddle finished out the final three innings and gave up no runs and four hits. He had no walks and struckout one batter.

“We, as a team, all fully understand that wins and losses do not determine the success of the season,” Rumsey said. “All that truly matters is that the guys improve their game as the season progresses.

“This team is the most coachable that I have had in my three years as head coach for the junior team, and I firmly believe that we have the talent to win a zone championship and make it to the state tournament.”

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