The American Legion Manko Senior 17ers lost a pair of games on Friday to fall to 0-3 at the Tournament of Champions.
The 17ers opened the day with a 3-2 loss to the Kansas Crush, while the second game of the day was a 7-5 loss to the Great Bend Chiefs.
Despite the losses, Manko coach Luke Snyder said the team is improving with each game.
“We are definitely progressing, we were much more competitive than we were on Thursday, and I expect us to keep getting more competitive,” he said. “If we can continue to do that, things will turn around for us.”
Spencer Anderson pitched well for the 17ers in the first game of the day, but was outdueled by a pair of pitchers from the Crush. The Crush got two doubles from Manhattan High’s Jacob Biller.
Jesse Steinbring started out well in the second game, but the game got away from him in the middle innings before he left the game.
Snyder said both starters pitched well in his eyes.
“That’s what I expect of Spencer, he’s been good for us the past few summers, he’s a competitor and he does good things for us,” he said. “This was Jesse’s debut for us in 19-and-under baseball and for a 15-year-old he threw the ball hard. He just has to realize he can’t blow it by people yet at this level, he will though in a few years.”
A big fourth inning knocked Manko out of Game 2, as Great Bend piled on five runs in the fourth inning to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 lead. The 17ers outscored the Chiefs 3-1 the rest of the way, but it wasn’t enough.
The 17ers got on the board in the first inning when Josh Mullin hit a single to bring Jonah Webber around to score from second base.
Manko held on to its 1-0 lead after the second inning, despite the Chiefs loading the bases. The 17ers forced a groundball with the bases loaded and got an easy throw to first to end the inning.
Great Bend had back-to-back doubles in the third inning to put runners at second and third with one out, but ended up scoring just one of the runs with a suicide squeeze. The other runner was thrown out on the same play, trying to stretch from second all the way home on the bunt, and was thrown out as part of a 1-3-2 double play.
The 17ers would take the lead back in the bottom of the third on the second RBI single of the game from Mullin. The Manko catcher hit an infield single that drove in Webber for the second time.
Great Bend would add five runs in the fourth inning though, starting with back-to-back RBI hits to take the lead at 3-2. The Chiefs got a run home on a passed ball and scored a pair of runs with a deep two-run double.
Manko loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with two outs, and scored a pair of runs when the Great Bend shortstop threw the ball away trying to make the final out at second base. The 17ers sent a third run home, but it was thrown out at the plate.
The Chiefs scored a run in the top of the sixth inning with a bases-loaded infield single, but they left the bases loaded from there on out.
Manko scored a run in the bottom of the sixth inning with a delayed double steal from first and third, but they couldn’t score another run and trailed 7-5 going into the seventh.
Snyder said his team entered the tournament without seeing pitches for a few weeks. The more they see, the better they will get.
“The big thing in this tournament is we had a bunch of guys who hadn’t seen live pitching in three weeks, and you can tell,” he said. “They have started to get better as they’ve seen more pitching.”