The Manhattan High baseball team found itself in a pair of tight contests on Friday night at Hayden.
The Indians used a two-run eighth inning to win the first game 4-2, and saw Hayden win the second game 4-3 in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the seventh.
Hayden scored the first run of Game 1 in the third inning, but the Indians (14-4) scored runs during the next two innings to go ahead 2-1. The Wildcats (13-5) would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth.
After a scoreless seventh inning to force extras, the Indians piled on two runs in the eighth inning and held on in the bottom to win.
Trey Francis pitched the last 1 2/3 innings to get the win, while TJ Giller pitched the 6 1/3 innings before that. Giller allowed six hits, while Francis gave up none, and they combined for eight strikeouts.
“It was just a great ballgame and the pitching from both sides was really good,” MHS coach Don Hess said. “TJ pitched very competitively and both he and Trey did a great job.”
Brooks Lindsay and Chris Turner led the Indians at the plate in Game 1, as tey had two hits and two RBIs apiece.
The Indians’ bats were somewhat quiet in the second game, as they didn’t score until the fourth inning, after allowing Hayden to take a 2-0 lead in the first.
Manhattan scored two runs in the sixth inning to go ahead 3-2, but the Wildcats scored one run in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.
Hayden, which had 10 hits in the contest, put the game away with bases-loaded suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh.
Lindsay was the losing pitcher for the Indians in Game 2, coming in relief and allowing the final run.
Jacob Biller started and threw the first three innings. Craig Berry threw one inning of relief and Chris Klug pitched two before they got to Lindsay in the seventh.
Hess said the game came down to the team not scoring runs with a big opportunity in the sixth inning.
“For us, it kind of came down to being down a run in the sixth inning and we had the bases loaded with no outs and had tied the game, and we only got one run after that,” he said. “They made a pitching change and we had them on the ropes and we let them off.
“If we had built up a cushion, I think the outcome might have been different, obviously.”
Taylor Hilgers had two hits in the second game, including a double, while Brooks DeBord went 1-for-1 with two RBIs, a double and two walks.
Although the Indians’ chances of hosting a regional in two weeks look strong, Hess said next week’s final regularly-scheduled doubleheader at Topeka High on Thursday remains important for a number of reasons.
“It’s extremely critical,” he said. “I think we are OK, as far as hosting a regional, but we need to go out and have two very productive outings at Topeka High.
“Knowing that we have just one more doubleheader before regionals start, we are going to try and cram a lot into just one doubleheader, and it’s very important.”