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Senior 17ers finish 3-1 at KU showcase

By Grant Guggisberg

After a slow day on offense in two games Friday, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers got the bats going in their final game Saturday at the Jayhawk Classic 18U showcase.

The 17ers beat the Kansas City-based Orioles Navy team 16-6, scoring 11 runs in the final three innings to win big. Chris Klug played a key part in the rout, finishing the game 5 for 5 at the plate with two triples, a double and six RBIs.

“He was just letting the ball travel and taking good competitive swings each time up,” Manhattan coach Luke Snyder said. “He was rewarded for it. He hit the ball really well today.”

Michael Leeper hit the team’s first homerun of the year in the first inning to stake the 17ers to a 2-0 lead, while Alex Huerta provided the team’s other extra-base hit with a triple.

“That’s our first one,” Snyder said. “Hopefully we have a few more in us.”

Snyder said he was pleased with the offensive output, even if it came against an overmatched team on the last day of a showcase when pitching can become thin.

“We hit the ball a little bit,” he said. “We were the better team today, but you still have to go out there and prove it. Our bats did a good job today.”

In two games Friday, Manhattan won one and lost one, beating the Cavaliers 1-0 before falling to Mac-N-Seitz 5-2 in the second game.

Against the Kansas City-based Cavaliers, Manhattan (8-8) won in walkoff fashion, winning 1-0 on Kellen Myers’ RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Manhattan got a gem from Klug on the mound, with the senior-to-be pitching a seven-inning shutout and allowing just three hits. Klug needed to be sharp, too, as the 17ers offense was almost equally as quiet. Manhattan finished the game with just one run despite eight hits.

With two outs in the seventh inning, Jesse Steinbring and Grant Herpich each hit singles before Myers’ game-winning hit.

Against Kansas-City based Mac-N-Seitz, the 17ers couldn’t overcome a five-run deficit after a disastrous second inning that saw Manhattan’s opponent score all five of its runs on six hits and a walk.

Leeper, who got the start on the mound, was chased from the game in the inning, and by then, the damage was done. Manhattan would score a pair of runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Myers and Josh Mullin, but would end the game with just three hits.

“Mac-N-Seitz, they earned it,” Snyder said. “They hit the ball around the yard that inning. Leeper never really found his rhythm on the mound, but those days happen. We continued to battle and it was a well-played baseball game.”

The team got the chance to see Jonah Webber return to game action after missing the entire high-school season and the first part of the summer with a knee injury.

“He’s making progress,” Snyder said. “Everything feels good, we’re just easing him back into it and getting him confident on his knee again. He played some defense starting Tuesday of this week he played a couple innings. We’ll make sure he stays comfortable and build his confidence.”

Looking ahead, the 17ers play at Norvell Field on Tuesday against the Kansas City Bombers in a nine-inning game beginning at 5 p.m. They then travel to St. Joseph’s, Mo., over the weekend for the Missouri Western State Showcase, where they’ll play a pair of games on Friday and another pair on Sunday.

“I think we’ve made some good progress,” Snyder said. “We’re getting better. We found a little bit of a rhythm this weekend and our pitching staff was excellent. You can see it starting to come together a little bit, we just have to continue to improve.”

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