Senior 17ers stay perfect in Salina

By Grant Guggisberg

The American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers won their final pool play game in Salina’s 19U Kansas Grand Slam tournament on Friday to stay undefeated and earn a top seed in today’s semifinals.

Manhattan beat the Wichita Reds, 9-4, to go 3-0 and earn the top seed in its pool, setting a matchup against the Salina Falcons in the semifinals at 12:15 p.m., with the winners playing for the championship at 3 p.m.

The 17ers struck early against the Reds, plating a run on AJ Epperson’s double in the first inning before scoring three more in the top of the second, drawing three consecutive walks to start the inning. During Trace Nelson’s ensuing at-bat, a runner was picked off at second, but a run scored on a balk before Nelson smacked a triple to center to make it 3-0. Epperson drove in Nelson on a sac fly to add to the lead.

Manhattan really poured it on in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of free bases by the Reds’ pitching staff to lead 9-0.

After loading the bases with one out, Garrett Francis took a walk to score a run before Nelson singled to left field to score two more. Epperson walked to reload the bases and Stegeman also walked to drive in another run, with Isaac Leon completing the scoring on a bases-loaded hit by pitch.

The Reds got on the board in the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run by TJ Fleming and an RBI single. They would add two more in the bottom of the seventh.

Eric Prockish got the start on the mound for the 17ers, pitching four scoreless innings to earn the win, striking out four and walking one. Alex Huerta came on in relief for two innings before Jake Olson closed out the game in the seventh.

“We got a great starting performance from Eric,” Manhattan assistant coach Ryan Wilkinson said. “Trace Nelson had a nice game as well. It was a great team win.”

Nelson had three of Manhattan’s eight hits, with Stegeman also logging a two-hit game with a single and a double. Epperson hit a double and Grant Munsen and Grant Urban both had singles.

Junior 17ers win final game in Salina

After losing its third pool-play game Friday at the 17U Kansas Grand Slam, the junior 17ers salvaged their weekend with a win 7-6 win over the Hays Eagles on Saturday to close out the tournament with a victory.

After each team scored a pair of runs in the first, Manhattan took the lead in the third after Jace Priddle was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. He advanced to third base on a pick-off attempt and scored on a wild pitch.

Hays retook the lead on a two-run home run by Braydon Delzeit, but the 17ers responded in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs.

Manhattan put together a two-out rally in the sixth, loading the bases on a hit by pitch and two walks before a pair of costly errors by the Eagles’ shortstop allowed three runs to score, and a third error plated a fourth run to make it 7-4.

Hays scored two runs in the top of the seventh against Priddle, who came on in the sixth inning for starter Kobe Brown, who allowed four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Priddle allowed two runs on two hits and struck out five.

Alex Fetters had two of Manhattan’s three hits in the game, with Priddle adding the other.

On Friday, the 17ers lost their final game of pool play to the Wichita Reds, 8-1.

The Reds scored a pair of runs in the first inning and added at least one run in each successive inning until the sixth.

Manhattan, on the other hand, couldn’t muster much offense, scoring a single run in the top of the fourth on a single by Dylan Newell. Brown, Brett Fields and Chance Henderson each had hits for the 17ers.

Josh Rockey got the start on the mound, allowing eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits over five innings of work. Newell came on in relief in the sixth and pitched a scoreless frame.

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