The American Legion Manhattan Manko Junior 17ers rebounded Saturday with a convincing 9-1 win against the Boulder (Colo.) Panthers in Tointon Family Stadium for the 20th Annual Tournament of Champions.
The victory puts Manko at 2-2 for the tournament and in this morning’s semi-final game with a rematch against the Blue Valley Huskies at 8 a.m. in Tointon.
The game ended by run-rule after Boulder was retired in the top of the fifth.
“All-around better day,” Manhattan head coach Dan Rumsey said following Saturday’s contest. “I challenged them to score a bunch of runs (today) and get a run-rule so we could up our run differential and get a better seeding. The offense did a great job and the pitchers did a good job on the mound throwing a lot of strikes.”
Conner Brown got the win on the mound for Manko as the starter gave up no runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings of work. Eric Prockish threw the top of the fifth and allowed one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Right fielder Henry deNoble led the way for Manko offensively with a triple, a double and two RBIs.
Rumsey said players like deNoble, who played for the junior team last season as well, are an example for younger players to look up to.
“Henry has been hot for us all weekend,” Rumsey said. “The guys that played for me last year know what I expect, and they are stepping up and forming that nucleus that we are looking for as an example for younger players.”
Center fielder Athen Martinez led-off the top of the first with a drawn walk and deNoble tripled to bring him home. An error by the Boulder catcher on a throw to third plated another Manko run while a balk from the Panthers pitcher scored another to give Manhattan a 3-0 lead.
The Manko defense made short work of Boulder in the bottom of the inning and the 17ers again were aggressive in the top of the second with three more runs aided by back-to-back RBIs from a deNoble double and a sacrifice to left by shortstop Grant Herpich.
Designated hitter Sterling Shimp and Martinez had RBIs in the top of the third to help extend the lead to 8-0 and the Manhattan defense nearly had the game run-ruled even earlier when a runner was ready to score from third, but a groundout ended the bottom of the fourth and kept the 17ers from getting the ninth run needed to end the game in four innings.
The Panthers plated a run early in the top of the fifth, but the Manko defense stiffened and ended the game with consecutive outs, including a strikeout thrown by Prockish that retired the side.
“We were just more aggressive at the plate (compared to Saturday),” Rumsey said. “We were more relaxed. We saw a lot better pitches and swung at a lot better pitches.”