Manhattan sweeps Washburn Rural in last home game of season

Kris Long, Staff Writer

The Manhattan High baseball team won both their games in a doubleheader against Washburn Rural on Friday, going 9-7 in the first and 5-3 in the second. Both of the games were extremely competitive for the team’s senior night as MHS came back from behind in both cases.

Manhattan came into the doubleheader with confidence after trouncing Highland Park on April 23, bringing them to mercy in both games, 23-0 and 21-0. However, Washburn is still one of the biggest challenges for Manhattan out of all the Centennial League teams.

“[Washburn Rural] is always a big name on our schedule,” junior Tyler Higgins said. “We look forward to playing them.”

The losses to Manhattan were the first losses in the regular season for Washburn so far this year.

“Washburn Rural has [been a difficult opponent ] the last two or three years,” head coach Don Hess said. “We’re in the same regionals, the same league [and] they just have such a quality program that [they’re] … stiff competition all the way around.”

The first game was extremely competitive with each side taking and losing the lead multiple times. MHS started the first game by conceding one run in the top of the first but quickly tied it up in the bottom of the inning with a run from senior Ben Gallagher. Manhattan allowed three more runs scored in the top of the second, putting them as many runs behind, but took the lead in the bottom of the inning 6-4 from a string of singles and doubles. Manhattan lost their lead by one in the top of the fourth and didn’t get back on top until scoring three in the bottom of the fifth, ending the game 9-7.

“I thought we performed really well,” Gallagher said. “It was a lot of fun and we all did our part. We just played really well all around.”

The second game of the doubleheader presented itself as a struggle. MHS again gave up the first run, this time on an error. However, they took the lead in the bottom of the inning with a double from Higgins and maintained it throughout the game.

Manhattan shut out the top of next three innings and scored one in the bottom of each, leaving the game at 5-1 at the end of the fourth. Washburn attempted to edge themselves back into the game, scoring in the top of the fifth and sixth but Manhattan’s closing pitcher, senior Jackson Walker, kept them from claiming a lead. The game ended 5-3.

“Winning doubleheaders is hard because you have to keep the same intensity and not get complacent,” Hess said. “We felt confident but baseball’s a funny game, you [have] to perform for seven innings and you can’t take [winning] for granted.”

Manhattan is traveling to Hays next from Friday through Sunday to compete for the first time in the Hays tournament.