Manko Jrs drop two at Wamego

By Brady Bauman

The American Legion Manhattan Manko Junior 17ers lost tight battles over the weekend at the Wamego American Legion tournament.

The 17ers dropped Friday night’s game against Royal Valley 4-3, and lost another tight game Saturday afternoon to Wellington, 2-1.

“We were a lot better today,” Manhattan head coach Dan Rumsey said about Saturday’s contest. “(Friday) we should have won on paper, but some things didn’t work out for us. But we looked a lot better today and played with some real passion and pride. We just ran out of innings.”

In the loss Saturday, strong pitching from Wellington tested Manko. Manhattan held a 1-0 lead four innings after surviving a two-out start in the bottom of the fourth with Manko taking advantage of fielding errors by Wellington.

Wellington responded, though, in the next frame with two singles, two walks drawn and an error by Manhattan that scored two runs.

Defense prevailed the rest of the way and the 2-1 Wellington lead held true.

A.J. Epperson had Manko’s lone hit of the game, while Wellington just had two more hits as a team.

Evan Olson pitched a complete game for the 17ers and allowed two runs — one earned — on three hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.

Wellington’s pitcher also went a full seven innings, and he allowed one run — none earned — on one hit with five walks and 13 strikeouts.

“Wellington had a good pitcher who played hard and I tip my hat to the other team,” Rumsey said.

Rumsey was proud of his pitcher, too.

“Evan had the best pitching performance we’ve seen all year,” he said. “It was great for him to do that, and it was the highlight of the weekend. We just need to execute in all three aspects of the game — pitching, hitting and fielding. Once we start doing that, we’ll be winning some games.”

On Friday, Manko was in an early 2-0 hole to Royal Valley after the first inning but found a run in the next inning by scoring on a wild pitch.

In the top of the fifth Manhattan found another run by scoring on a passed ball, but Royal Valley scored again in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-2 lead.

While Manko got off to a good start in the top of the sixth with a single by Issac Leon and scored again on another defensive miscue by Royal Valley, the game ended after Manhattan was retired due to a two-hour time limit for the game.

Epperson and Leon led the batting for Manko, both going 2-for-3, while Conner Brown started the game on the mound.

Brown went three innings and allowed three runs — two earned — on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts, while Leon came in for relief and pitched the rest of the way, giving up one run on one hit with two walks and three strikeouts.

Manhattan will continue play Wednesday at Junction City.

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