Manko Jrs split with Kansas Senators

By Grant Guggisberg

The American Legion Manhattan Manko junior 17ers earned a split on the road against the Kansas Senators Thursday night in Topeka, after rain took away the team’s lone scheduled home games on Tuesday and forced a change in venue.

Despite the added travel, the 17ers took Game 1 from the Topeka-based Senators, winning 7-5 behind a solid pitching effort from Jace Priddle, before dropping the second game, 11-3, in a game shortened by run-rule.

Manhattan’s Priddle went 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two while allowing two runs (one earned), both in the seventh inning. Dylan Newell came on in relief and allowed three more unearned runs to cross the plate before finishing out the win.

“Jace was awesome,” 17ers coach Luke Snyder said. “He filled up the strike zone, and he attacked hitters and got ahead of hitters. His defense did a great job of making plays behind him.”

Snyder said his team played a little tight in the game’s final inning.

“There was an error, maybe two,” he said. “And they blooped in a couple hits. Once we got ready to close out the ballgame, we just got a little tight. Then all of a sudden, the plays that we were making with basically no effort earlier in the game became more difficult.”

Offensively, Manhattan battled against Senators’ starter Dalton Huggins, but finally broke through in the fourth inning, plating a pair of runs before adding a third in the fifth. Reliever Alex Rea allowed four runs in the top of the seventh to stake the 17ers to a 7-0 lead before the Senators rallied in the bottom of the frame.

Brandon Cook and TJ Ladner each had two-hit games, while Alex Fetters led the way in RBIs with three.

“Both teams were competitive at the plate in Game 1,” Snyder said. “They hit some balls hard that we made nice plays on, and the same thing with us, we hit some balls hard that they made plays on. But in the fourth, those hard-hit baseballs finally started to find some grass.”

In the second game, the 17ers didn’t bring the same focus and intensity to the diamond, allowing four runs in the bottom of the first and finding an early hole.

Parker Beer got the start on the mound and recorded only one out before giving way to Colby Brown, who pitched 3 2/3 innings before Josh Rockey came on with two outs in the fifth. Each pitcher allowed three earned runs.

Offensively, the 17ers scratched one run across in the second inning but would only get two more the rest of the way in the lopsided loss.

Manhattan had just four hits in the game — all singles.

“We got off to a little bit of a bumpy start,” he said. “We were playing from behind early in the game and we just never really got into a rhythm offensively or defensively, or pitching the ball as well.

“We just didn’t play Game 2 with the same focus we played the first game with.”

The juniors head to Marysville this weekend for the Marysville Classic before a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Salina Eagles.

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