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Manko seniors go 1-1 to open Zone tourney

By The Mercury

After winning their first game on Monday afternoon, the Manhattan American Legion Manko senior 17ers ran into trouble with a loss to Newton at the Class AAA Zone tournament in Salina.

The 17ers opened the day with a 9-1 win over Junction City, but then lost to No. 1-seed Newton in their second game of the day, 10-6.

Newton did the most damage to the 17ers with a six-run fourth inning. Manhattan was down 10-0 by the end of the fifth after Newton added three more runs.

The 17ers would make their comeback attempt in the seventh, scoring five runs to cut the lead in half.

Garrett Francis started the inning with a single before Darien Stokes doubled to score Francis. Trace Nelson walked and then AJ Epperson doubled in a pair of runs. Alex Huerta singled and Eric Prockish hit a sacrifice fly before Jake Olson walked. Luke Stegeman reached on an error that scored Huerta.

Manhattan was held to just one more run the rest of the way.

Manhattan lost the game despite outhitting Newton 9-7. Francis and Huerta each had three of the 17ers’ nine hits, while Epperson had two RBIs.

Grant Munsen struggled on the mound in the loss, going 3 1/3 innings and allowing seven runs — five earned — on five hits and six walks, while striking out three. Eric Prockish pitched the rest of the way and allowed just three more runs — one earned — on two hits and five walks.

Things went better for Manhattan in the first game of the day, despite getting off to a slow start. Junction City led 1-0 going into the sixth inning where the 17ers scored their first six runs of the game.

Epperson and Nelson started the inning with back-to-back hits, before a wild pitch scored the first run of the inning. Nelson scored on an errant throw.

With two outs, Munsen walked, Huerta was hit by a pitch and then Stegeman was plunked by a pitch. Munsen scored on a wild pitch, and then Garrett Francis drew a bases-loaded walk. Stokes singled to left to score the sixth run for the 17ers.

The 17ers tacked on three more runs in the eighth inning to put the game away.

The 17ers got a hit from seven of their nine starters, while Stokes had two RBIs. Olson and Nelson had doubles, while Munsen had a triple.

Jared Ayres was impressive on the mound, going eight innings and allowing one run on four hits and one walk, while striking out 10. Epperson pitched the ninth and allowed one hit, while striking out three.

Manhattan will play the winner of Junction City and Buhler tonight at 8. The tournament is double elimination.

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