No matter which team won their way into the Zone championship game on Wednesday in Salina, the winner of the game between the Salina Falcons and the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers would punch their ticket to the Class AAA state tournament.
Despite leading the game 3-0 through three innings, the 17ers fell behind 9-3 before eventually losing 11-7, ending their season a game short of the state tournament next week in Pittsburg.
Newton defeated Salina, 11-4, in the championship game to win the Zone title.
Manhattan scored its first run on a double from Luke Stegeman that scored Trace Nelson in the second inning. In the third inning, AJ Epperson singled in Ian Hart and Nelson singled in Garrett Francis.
Starting pitcher Nathan Kordyak got in trouble in the fourth inning as the Falcons put up five runs. Kordyak was chased after recording one out in the inning, after allowing four runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks.
Jeremy Broadwater came on in relief and pitched the rest of the inning, but left before recording an out in the fifth inning. Broadwater was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk.
Trailing 9-3 through five innings, the 17ers tried to make their comeback in the sixth inning, but got stopped after two runs. Epperson singled with the bases loaded to score Grant Urban and Hart.
Manhattan cut the lead to 9-6 in the seventh inning with an RBI single from Urban that scored Jake Olson. But Salina tacked on two more runs in the eighth inning to widen the gap out to 11-6, with just three outs left for the 17ers to make a comeback attempt.
Hart singled to leadoff the inning, but the 17ers hit in to back-to-back groundouts. Epperson singled through the infield to score Hart, and Salina struck out the final 17ers’ batter to end the game.
Isaac Leon pitched 3 1/3 innings after Broadwater, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk, with two strikeouts. Eric Prockish relieved him for the final two outs of the eighth inning and finished with three walks allowed.
Epperson finished the game 3 for 6 with four RBIs, while Stegeman was 3 for 5 with one RBI. Nelson and Urban were each 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Hart was 2 for 3 and scored three runs.
SALINA 11, MANHATTAN 7
Manhattan 0 1 2 0 0 2 1 0 1 — 7 15 2
Salina 0 0 0 5 4 0 0 2 X — 11 10 0
LP — Kordyak.
2B — Stegeman.