The Manhattan High baseball team got a pair of run-rule victories over Topeka West Friday afternoon at Norvell Field, winning 15-4 and 11-1.
After winning Game 1 against the Chargers, Manhattan’s Jesse Steinbring pitched four strong innings, allowing just two hits to go with seven strikeouts, while working under a strict pitch count with a trip to Seaman coming up on Tuesday.
“Our goal for him was to throw 50 to 55 pitches,” Manhattan head coach Don Hess said. “It didn’t matter if he was ahead or behind. He was coming out because we’ve got Seaman on Tuesday.”
The Tribe’s bats woke up in the bottom of the second inning. Kellen Myers started off the inning with a single and the Tribe rolled off seven straight hits. A RBI triple by Bret Fehr capped off the four-run inning.
Consistent hitting kept the Topeka West outfielders on their toes. The Tribe batters hit in between the gaps and snuck multiple balls down the line that left the corner outfielders chasing balls while the Tribe runners were rounding bases. The wheels eventually came off for Topeka starting pitcher Brandon Howland in the fourth inning when Manhattan reeled off seven straight runs. Because of the hot bats, Manhattan High run ruled the Chargers for their second win of the doubleheader.
Hess said he hopes Manhattan High can continue their momentum against Seaman.
“I hope so,” Hess said. “We had two doubleheaders this week and we swung the bats real well through the week. We never know. You never know with high-school-age ball players. Our guys feel confident right now. We’ll just have to go with that.”
In Game 1, Manhattan jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning and never looked back against the Chargers.
The Tribe would pile on 10 more runs the next three innings for a 15-4 win. Most of the work was done in those first two innings.
In the second inning, Manhattan plated six more runs to create a nine-run deficit.
Fehr, a Wichita State commit, scored three runs, hit two triples, drove in one run and reached base every one of the four times he stepped to the plate.
“He’s had an up-and-down year,” Hess said. “I think he’s more determined at the plate. He’s just putting good swings on the ball and it’s really fun to watch cause when he gets on the bases it’s electrifying.”
His talents were on display in the crowd, too, where Manhattan fans wore “Fehr the Beard” shirts with an outline of Fehr’s bearded face on the front.
Although in the first game, Manhattan High fans could have donned an outline of every Manhattan High hitter. Topeka West starting pitcher Nicholas Cole could not find a hole in the Tribe lineup and was eventually pulled after surrendering 12 runs.
The lead allowed Hess to tinker with his lineup. Hess used three pitchers, two pinch hitters, and one pinch runner.
“We feel comfortable with all the guys on our team,” Hess said. “We’ve had some guys that have hit the ball real well in practice and the situation allowed us to do that. Sometimes you can only play so many at a time. It was great to see some of them come through.”
Manhattan travels to Seaman for a tough Centennial League doubleheader on Tuesday.