After eight consecutive innings without a run, the American Legion Manhattan Manko senior 17ers almost pulled off an impressive comeback in Topeka Tuesday night.
Hosted by the Topeka Stars, the two teams opted into a single nine-inning game instead of a doubleheader. Eight innings later, the 17ers faced a 6-0 deficit with three outs to go.
Manhattan (4-4) got four runs in the top of the ninth to make a game of it, but fell 6-4.
Facing Topeka starter Michael Meenen, Manhattan could only muster four hits through eight innings until chasing him in the ninth with a leadoff single by Josh Klug and Alex Huerta’s hit by pitch. Josh Mullin followed with an RBI double to prompt a pitching change, with reigning Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year Ryan Colombo taking the mound in relief.
Colombo walked Chris Klug to load the bases before striking out DJ Kordyak. Grant Herpich reached on an error to score a second run, while Ethan Fabrizius grounded out to the first baseman to score the third run. Chris Klug scored the game’s final run on a passed ball before Garrett Francis struck out swinging to end the rally and the game.
Manhattan starter Mike Leeper took the loss on the mound for the 17ers, but had a solid outing. He went four innings and allowed just one run on one hit while striking out seven. Huerta came on in relief and gave up two runs on two hits, with Francis closing out the game with a pair of innings, allowing three runs on three hits.
Topeka took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, getting a leadoff single and scoring a run after three consecutive walks by Leeper.
Neither team scored again until the fifth, when with runners on first and second, Manhattan’s Jesse Steinbring overthrew first base on a double-play attempt which allowed a run to score. Colombo scored the second run of the inning on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Topeka would add three important insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, scoring on a wild pitch and getting a bases-loaded, two-run double from Jeremy Thomas to make it 6-0.
Manhattan will take the weekend off before playing The Yard from Lee’s Summit, Mo., on June 11 in Topeka.