Junior 17ers win Zone championship

By The Mercury

After an up-and-down regular season, the American Legion Manhattan Manko junior 17ers are headed to state.

Behind a 10-5 victory over the Junction City Jays on Wednesday, the 17ers advanced to next week’s single-A state tournament in Leavenworth against seven of the state’s top junior teams.

After winning its first two games in the Marysville Zone tournament, Manhattan would need to lose twice against Junction City to be denied its state trip, and faced a two-run deficit heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.

But the 17ers completed the rally, scoring four runs in the fifth to take a 6-4 lead before scoring another four runs in the sixth inning to put the game out of reach.

Junction City scored a single run in the top of the seventh, but would get no closer.

Manhattan put together its rally in part because of a poor defensive effort from Junction City, which had six errors in the game. Of the 10 runs the 17ers scored, only two were earned.

Manhattan, on the other hand, had only three errors in the field behind its pitching staff, which put together a solid effort on the mound.

While both Manhattan pitchers struggled to find the zone at times, they did enough to keep the Jays off balance and get the 17ers to state.

Parker Beer got the start and went 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) with four strikeouts and five walks.

When he found trouble in the fourth against the Jays, Jace Priddle came on in relief, pitching 3 2/3 innings and allowing two runs (none earned) with four strikeouts and four walks.

Offensively, Priddle had three hits in the game, including a triple. He also had the team lead in RBIs, driving in two. Alex Fetters, Beer, Brett Fields and Kobe Brown all had singles for the 17ers.

Single-A state in Leavenworth is scheduled to begin July 23.

Seniors rally for win against Falcons

Playing a single nine-inning game against the Salina Falcons Wednesday, Manhattan faced an uphill battle if it hoped to come out of Dean Evans Stadium with a win.

Trailing by eight runs after eight complete innings, the 17ers scored nine runs in the top of the ninth to take a 16-15 lead, with Garrett Francis getting the last three outs in the bottom of the frame to complete the unlikely rally.

Francis pitched 2 2/3 innings to earn the win on the mound, allowing no runs on one hit with a pair of strikeouts and one walk.

Manhattan’s big ninth inning got going with a one-out double by AJ Epperson, followed by a Trace Nelson RBI double. Grant Munsen and Wes Whitney each took bases-loaded walks before Alex Huerta smacked a pinch-hit double to score a pair of runs.

Epperson took a two-out, bases-loaded walk before Nelson came up with the go-ahead run, clearing the bases on a three-run triple to stake Manhattan to a 16-15 lead.

The 17ers had only four hits in the inning, all of which went for extra bases.

Jared Ayres started on the mound for Manhattan, pitching 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits with one strikeout and four walks. Jeremy Broadwater pitched 2 1/3 innings of middle relief, allowing eight runs (six earned) on nine hits, with Nathan Kordyak coming in and recording just one out before walking two and hitting two batters to get Francis up in the bullpen to finish out the game.

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