In a pair of evenly-matched games Thursday afternoon, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers came out of top in each of its pool-play games at the Kansas Grand Slam tournament in Salina.
Facing Great Bend in its tournament opener, the 17ers took an early 4-0 lead after two innings and were able to maintain their lead despite a rally attempt from the Chiefs in the late innings.
Great Bend scored once in the top of the fourth and twice in the fifth to cut the 17ers’ lead to one, but Manhattan came up with another pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to re-extend the lead.
Jared Ayres pitched the win, going six innings while allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits, with seven strikeouts to go with two walks. Garrett Francis pitched a scoreless seventh for the save.
Offensively, Trace Nelson finished the day with a double and a triple, while Luke Stegeman also had a two-hit game.
“Jared Ayres threw six innings of great baseball today,” Manhattan assistant coach Ryan Wilkinson said.
In the team’s second game, Manhattan went back and forth with the Buhler Nationals and starting pitcher Dakota Wolf, who pitched eight strong innings and helped his own cause with a three-hit game on offense.
The 17ers came out on top 5-4 in extra innings.
Manhattan got a solid start of its own from Grant Munsen, who pitched 4 2/3 innings before giving way to Jeremy Broadwater, who finished out the win by wiggling out of a jam.
“Grant started and threw very well for us,” Wilkinson said. “Jeremy came in and pitched great, and got himself out of a second and third with no outs in the bottom of the eighth to seal the win.
“It was a great team effort by all of our guys. Everyone competed real well and had some role in helping the team win.”
After scoring a single run in the first inning, Manhattan answered every Buhler run with one of their own, coming up with two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game and a single run in the top of the seventh to tie it again before winning in the eighth.
Ian Hart and Francis each had two hits in the game.
Manhattan played just one game this afternoon against the Wichita Reds at 2:30 p.m. Bracket play is set to begin on Saturday.
Juniors lose two
The junior 17ers suffered a pair of losses Thursday afternoon in Salina, opening up their weekend with a 9-5 loss to a familiar foe in the Salina Hawks.
Brett Fields got the start on the mound and cruised through three innings before finding trouble in the bottom of the fourth, allowing eight runs (six earned) to put Manhattan in a hole.
TJ Ladner came on in relief and pitched the rest of the way without incident, but the damage had been done.
Offensively, the 17ers got off to a quick start, plating three runs in the top of the first to take a quick lead, which they added to with a single run in the second to lead 4-0.
They would score just one more run in the loss.
Chance Henderson had a pair of hits for Manhattan batting leadoff, while Jace Priddle had the lone extra-base hit, a triple. Priddle and Parker Beer each drove in two.
In the second game of the day, Manhattan didn’t fare much better, dropping a game 10-0 to the Topeka Scrappers.
Beer got the start on the mound and was effective through the first three innings, but got into trouble in the fourth inning. Beer would finish his day allowing six runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Alex Fetters replaced him on the mound in the fifth and allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings of work to close out the game.
Offensively, the 17ers were never able to get much going against Topeka starter Mason Diederich, who pitched all six innings while allowing five hits and no runs. He struck out five and walked only one.
The junior 17ers played just one game this afternoon, against the Wichita Reds at 12:15 p.m.