In the first matchup with the KC Bullets this summer, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers were routed 19-2 in their worst loss of the season.
In Tuesday’s rematch in Kansas City, Manhattan kept the score much closer, but still couldn’t muster up enough offense to keep up with the Bullets, losing 4-0 and collecting just two hits.
“We did have some hard-hit outs,” Manhattan coach Luke Snyder said. “So it’s not like we were overmatched. We weren’t awful offensively, we just weren’t able to string together multiple hits or get that two-out hit with a runner on second. The Bullets only had six hits, but they were able to get a couple of two-out hits with runners in scoring position, which we failed to do.”
Manhattan starter Chris Klug was effective through four innings but took the loss after giving up a single run to the Bullets in the first. Mike Leeper came on in relief and pitched two innings, giving up a run in each before Alex Huerta took the mound. He pitched an inning while giving up a run before Conner Brown finished out the game with a scoreless eighth.
The Bullets used four different pitchers, all of which had success against the 17ers, though excellent defensive plays helped keep Manhattan off the scoreboard.
“I think we saw four different arms, and all four of them were pretty good,” Snyder said. “We just never really put anything together. Josh Klug had two lineouts, Mike Leeper had a well-hit ball to right-center and their fielder made a diving play. Jesse (Steinbring) hit a ball hard and the center fielder made a nice catch on.
“The hard-hit balls didn’t fall, the two-out hits didn’t come and their hard hits found grass, ours found gloves.”
With the mid-week game in the books, the 17ers now look to the weekend where they have the chance to play close to home.
Manhattan (12-11) opens pool play against the Midwest Blacksox bright and early, with an 8 a.m. first pitch on Thursday at Kansas State’s Tointon Family Stadium.
The 17ers continue pool play on Friday against Fort Collins at Washburn’s Falley Field in Topeka (approx. 12:30 p.m.) before playing the Oklahoma Outlaws at Hummer Sports Park later in the afternoon (approx. 3:30 p.m.).
Once pool play ends, each pool winner will play in a bracket in Manhattan at Tointon on Saturday. Teams finishing second, third or fourth in each pool will play out the bracket in Topeka, providing extra incentive for Manhattan to win its pool.
The tournament ends on Sunday with two semifinals and a championship game between the remaining teams, with those games all played at Washburn.