Senior 17ers open play in OKC today

By The Mercury

After taking last weekend off, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers head south today to begin pool play at the sixth annual Justin Sullivan Memorial Baseball Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Manhattan is scheduled to play the Oklahoma City Drillers to start the tournament before facing off against Westmoore (Okla.) at 1:30 p.m. Friday’s schedule includes a matchup against the host team, the Oklahoma City Ambassadors at 6 p.m. to end pool play.

The tournament, which features 32 teams from around the region, is expected to provide plenty of tough competition.

“It’s similar to the Great Plains Shootout, which is a Topeka tournament coming up,” Manhattan coach Luke Snyder said. “There are eight pools with four teams each, so it’s a pretty big tournament. We’re playing on six different fields in the Oklahoma City area.”

While all the teams are guaranteed five games, the 17ers will have to win their pool to have a shot at the championship. With many of the teams coming to the tournament not affiliated with the American Legion organizatino, getting through pool play won’t be easy. The Ambassadors host this tournament each year, and are a select team made up of some of the higher quality Christian players in the Oklahoma City metro area.

“It looks like a mix,” Snyder said of the types of teams they’ll see. “I see the Oklahoma Outlaws are in here. They are one of the top Legion teams around. They’ve been to the Legion World Series a time or two. But it looks like there will be more select-type teams.

“Some of the names I recognize are the Oklahoma City Ambassadors — they host this tournament and we’ve played them before. Cherry Creek out of the Denver area, we’ve played them before. The KC Bullets will be there, the Wichita Sluggers we’ve seen before. We’ve seen the Midwest Blacksox and the Tulsa Tide.”

Snyder said he expects most of the teams the 17ers will see to be quality clubs.

“I’ve done this for nine years now, so there are some teams I’ve seen out there that are pretty good baseball teams,” he said. “I’m expecting it to be a pretty competitive tournament. There are a lot of good teams.”

The 17ers (5-4) will send Jesse Steinbring and Mike Leeper to the mound in Thursday’s games, with Friday’s starter still undecided.

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