JUNCTION CITY — The Manhattan Indians 18U baseball team dropped two games on the road Monday against the Junction City Blues.
“We missed on some opportunities,” said coach Luke Snyder. “We missed some signs. We didn’t execute very well in certain situations. And, we’ve got to compete better on the mound. That first game has kind of been a problem for us all summer. We get to the bullpen and we struggle. We struggle to put the ball across the plate. And then a couple walks, a ground ball with eyes and all of a sudden we’re in a tough spot. We’ve struggled with that all summer.”
The Indians entered the contests 7-7 and quickly jumped out in front of the Blues in the first game.
Four runs crossed in the first with one in the second and five in the third to take a 10-0 lead before the hitting, base running and scoring stopped.
“We had the 10 run lead. We just didn’t do the things we needed to do to win — we quit hitting and scoring runs and way too many balks and errors,” Snyder said.
Junction City cut into the Indians’ lead with three runs in the bottom half of the third before four runs crossed in the fifth inning.
Up 10-7, the Indians just needed to hold the Blues for the final half inning, but the Junction City squad added four runs off two walks, two hit by pitch and one hit to take the game.
Adam Wollenberg got the start for the Indians and threw two shutout innings before Junction City found his rhythm and exploited it.
“Adam did a great job on the mound in his three innings — he competed well,” Snyder said. “We’re at the point in our season where we’re getting comfortable throwing around 70 pitches. But once we get around that 70 pitch mark, we’re looking to go to the bullpen.”
Game two started with Junction City pitcher Key’ahn Taylor on the mound. He controlled the strike zone with each Manhattan hit ending up in gloves of waiting Junction City defenders.
“Their pitcher did a nice job there at the beginning. He was in a rhythm,” Snyder said. “And once we got him out of that rhythm, we started to compete a little bit more. But to start that game, their guy threw well for the first two innings and once he got a little bit wild, we got some guys on, we’re able to score and compete a little bit.”
Junction City capitalized on their pitching to take a 5-0 lead in the first two innings before the Indians returned the favor, placing five runs on the scoreboard, three in the third and two in the fourth, to tie the game.
Missed opportunities on the base path, including missed signs, plagued Manhattan’s offensive efforts throughout the contest, Snyder said.
“It’s a mental thing; we just need to slow the game down and buy in,” he said. “And I like to bunt, I like to hit and run, I like to steal bases — but if we’re not getting signs and not everybody’s on the same page, those things don’t work out very well.”
Late in the second game, with a runner on third, Snyder decided to steal home with hopes of taking the lead.
Unfortunately, the Junction City catcher was waiting for him at the plate for the final out of the inning.
“It’s a roll of the dice and, you know, we came up a little bit short,” Snyder said. “But I liked the effort. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. And we’re trying to catch them off guard and it didn’t workout.”
With the losses, the Manhattan squad will prepare for its games the weekend of July 18 in Lawrence.