Senior 17ers win two in Missouri

By Grant Guggisberg

After a tough mid-week loss to the KC Bullets earlier this week, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers rebounded nicely this weekend with a pair of wins on Friday afternoon at the Missouri State Western showcase.

Manhattan earned a come-from-behind win in Game 1 before taking the second game 12-7 behind a strong effort at the plate to move to 2-0 on the weekend with two games to go on Sunday.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, and I was immediately questioning what kind of weekend we’d have here in St. Joe, but they showed some toughness in that first game and battled back from down 6-1,” Manhattan coach Luke Snyder said. “We had some big hits but had trouble moving runners early in the game. We were getting guys on but we were struggling to execute. But we ran the bases really well. Where we lacked in the extra-base hit, we made up for in stolen bases.”

Manhattan used a strong rally in the late innings in Game 1 in St. Joseph, Mo., to take the first game against the KC Elite, 7-6, before slugging their way to a 12-7 victory in Game 2 against the KC Barnstormers.

In Game 1, four runs in the fifth and two runs in the sixth proved to be the difference in a game that ended after the sixth inning due to time constraints.

Ethan Fabrizius got the start on the mound and was not his usual self, allowing six runs in four innings of work. Instead, it was Evan Olson earning the win in relief after an inning and a third of work. Jesse Steinbring came on in the sixth inning and closed out the game.

“We ran the bases pretty well,” Snyder said. “Ethan didn’t have his best stuff yesterday, but Evan came in and shut the door. He got us through a tough situation, and threw an inning and a third which was big for us. We threw up that zero on the board and kept scoring runs, which allowed us to get the comeback win.”

Kellen Myers finished 3 for 3 in the game with a pair of stolen bases and three runs scored. Alex Huerta had the big hit in the fifth that scored a pair of runs in the fifth and allowed Manhattan to make its comeback.

In the second game, Manhattan (11-9) used a six-run third inning to put the game out of reach, while shrugging off a tough start in the field.

The 17ers faced a 5-2 deficit in the bottom of the third inning, but would lead 8-5 after three innings and cruise to victory with another three runs in the fourth. Olson would again earn the win in relief after relieving starter Chris Klug.

Snyder said taking the lead in the third inning was the difference in the team’s second game.

“The six-spot in the third was big for us,” Snyder said. “You could really see the momentum change. We knocked the wind out of them that inning. We were competitive at the plate from the first inning to the sixth inning and we scored runs. We had guys hit the ball well and hit the ball hard.”

The 17ers finished the day with four extra-base hits as they took advantage of a windy day. Myers finished 2 for 3 with a triple, while Mike Leeper was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Dustan Whipple was 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs, while DJ Kordyak was 2 for 3 with a big two-out hit in the third. Grant Herpich was 2 for 3 while Jesse Steinbring was 2 for 4 with an RBI triple.

“We had some wind blowing,” Snyder said. “It was a windy day. You get a well-hit ball to the outfield and you throw some wind in there as well, we burned some outfielders, we put some balls in gaps, we stayed balanced and we put good competitive swings on it and we hit the ball hard.”

Manhattan plays two games on Sunday, starting with Next Level Baseball at 10 a.m. before facing the Midwest Blacksox in the weekend finale. Both teams are out of the Kansas City metro area.

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