Against the league’s top teams, the Manhattan High baseball team has struggled this year.
With league-leading Seaman in town for a doubleheader at Norvell Field on Monday, that trend did not change, as the Vikings swept the Indians 12-0 and 14-5 in a mistake-filled day for the home team.
“It was not a good effort on our part,” MHS coach Don Hess said. “There are a lot of things we could point to, but the bottom line is when your team plays that poorly, it falls on the coaches. I’m going to have to take responsibility for that one, because our guys weren’t ready to play.”
To be fair, Seaman looked the part. The Vikings scored 26 runs on 21 hits, committed no errors and scored runs in all but two innings in the two games.
The Seaman pitching staff was good too, with Ryan Colombo going five strong innings in Game 1. He allowed just one hit to Manhattan — a Bret Fehr single in the first inning — and struck out six. In the run-rule shortened game, the Indians had just three baserunners.
The second game was more competitive, with Fehr hitting a three-run home run in the second inning off Seaman starter Butch Rea to give the Indians a 4-2 lead early. But the Manhattan bats mustered just two hits and one run the rest of the way, while the Indians pitching staff faltered. Manhattan gave up seven runs on four hits in the fourth inning to allow Seaman to retake the lead for good.
“It’s the whole package,” Hess said. “We didn’t pitch well, we didn’t play defense well, we didn’t hit well and we didn’t play with any emotion or passion. Again, that’s my job and obviously I let them down, because we got some guys that haven’t been willing to change their approach to the game, and it falls on me. I haven’t done a good job with this group right now.”
The Indians’ pitching staff struggled to keep Seaman off balance. Jesse Steinbring got the start in Game 1, lasting three innings and giving up five runs on five hits. He struck out six to keep the game within reach, but Chris Klug gave up five runs in the fourth inning, with DJ Kordyak coming on to start the fifth and loading the bases before Josh Klug entered the game and got three consecutive outs for MHS.
In the second game, Indian starter Jacob Biller went 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on two hits. He kept the game within reach, but struggled with command, walking two and hitting four batters.
TJ Giller came on in relief of Biller, but also struggled, allowing five hits without recording an out. Bret Fehr entered the game next, walking the bases loaded before getting a groundout to end the fourth inning. Fehr faced two more batters in the top of the fifth before Ethan Fabrizius came on and pitched the final three innings, allowing two runs on three hits.
“Everytime we think we have some things figured out with a rotation, we show some struggles,” Hess said of his pitchers. “I was hoping by now we’d have some things solidified, but we’re just not throwing the ball over the plate the way we need to.”
Seaman’s Justin McNorton finished the day with three home runs, while also scoring after hitting a triple to the gap, with Manhattan missing the cutoff man.
“Obviously Seaman’s a good team,” Hess said. “They’re a good team year in and year out. But if we’re going to hit or walk the leadoff guy every inning, it’s going to be difficult for us to make a come back. With a good team, you can’t give them opportunities.
“At one time, they had twice as many runs as they did hits in the second game. That’s just not how we play baseball here at Manhattan High. I think that’s the discouraging part, is we’re doing things right now that traditionally we just don’t do.”
The Indians have the opportunity to right the ship on Wednesday with Wichita East and Derby scheduled to travel to Manhattan, though rain is in the forecast.