Compared to the early stages of the season, the run production the last two games for the American Legion Manhattan Manko Senior 17ers has been an offensive explosion.
The 17ers won 10-7 on Tuesday at Emporia, at one time leading 10-1. Manko assistant coach Ben Hess said the 17ers played as well as they have all season.
“The thing that sticks out to me was that we executed with runners in scoring position, unlike we have in other games this season,” he said. “We found ways to score and we did a lot better job than we had all season.”
The 17ers (2-8) scored two runs in the first inning as Bret Fehr scored on a double play and Jonah Webber hit a single to score Trey Schultz. Emporia would put up a run in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double, but then it didn’t score again until the seventh inning.
Kellen Myers drew a bases-loaded walk to score Tyler Holen in the fourth. Schultz opened the fifth with a triple, and Webber hit a sacrifice fly to score him.
Caleb Gorman opened a four-run sixth inning with a bases-loaded single to score Jesse Steinbring. Dustan Whipple scored on a fielder’s choice. Ethan Fabrizius singled to score Gorman and Spencer Anderson.
Manko added two runs in the top of the seventh when Chris Klug reached first on an error, and Josh Klug and Schultz scored to make the score 10-1.
Then Emporia had its own offensive explosion.
Emporia opened a five-run bottom of the seventh with a pair of RBI singles. The third run scored on a groundout and the fourth came home on a wild pitch. An RBI double scored the fifth run, and just like that it was 10-6.
“We made a couple mental mistakes,” Hess said. “We played six almost flawless innings, we were up 10-1 with one error and next thing you know its 10-6 and we have several errors on the board and we’ve lost the ability to throw a strike.
“(Emporia) did some nice things, but for the most part, it was some mental errors that allowed them to get back into it.”
Emporia was held to just one more run in the final two innings, giving the 17ers a three-run edge on the scoreboard and just their second win of the season.
The 17ers will head to the KU Team Camp Showcase starting Thursday and going through Sunday at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence. Manko will face the Kansas Crush at 2 p.m. on Thursday, a team it last played at the season-opening TOC.
To this point of the season, the 17ers are 0-8 in tournament play and 2-0 in nine-inning games. But Hess said they are seeing a turnaround coming in the tournament play.
“Something that we’ve noticed over the span of the season is that we have put ourselves in position to tie or win the game at the end, so we are coming close,” he said. “Our main goal is to get better this summer every game, and that’s in every facet of the game. As each game progresses we are starting to see these guys adjust to that level of play.”