Baseball takes third place at Diamond Classic over the weekend

Kris Long, Staff Writer

Manhattan High traveled to Hays last week to compete in the Diamond Classic from Thursday through Saturday. Manhattan split, winning two and losing two, putting them in third place at the end of the weekend.

The tournament was expected to be a challenge, since it was the first year MHS has competed. Going into the tournament, the team was anticipating to face a pitching challenge, with four games in three days they were going to need at least four pitchers to play their best and ideally pitch a full game.

“It’s hard to have four or five really great starters out there,” head coach Don Hess said. “Every team has to figure out how to work their pitching staff so that they can maximize the talent they … have.”

Manhattan also was down two starters going into the tournament. Junior Tyler Higgins was gone for a school trip and freshman Braden Dinkle was out with a knee injury he sustained in a collision with junior Tyce Hoover in the game against Washburn Rural last Friday. According to Hess, they have no indication of if or when he will be able to play again as of yet.

Without the two starters, MHS had much less flexibility in the lineup that has helped them this season.

MHS started the tournament on Thursday taking a loss against Hays, 1-0. It was a close game with senior and starting pitcher Zac Cox let in just three hits throughout the game. While defensively Manhattan played well, they struggled to put runners on base and left the match scoreless.

According to head coach Don Hess, Hays was the most difficult opponent in the tournament.

“They’ve only lost one game all year,” Hess said. “We gave it a good run just couldn’t get over the hump as far as driving in a run or two.”

Directly after the loss to Hays, Manhattan went into the game against Salina Central with senior Jackson Walker pitching and won 5-3.

Manhattan played Great Bend on Friday and came out with their biggest win of the tournament against them, finishing the game 9-1. Starting pitcher freshman Cade Perkins pitched well against the Panthers to keep them to just one run. According to Cox, Manhattan played their best overall against Great Bend.

Saturday, MHS conceded their second loss, again only by just one run, to Goddard Eisenhower 8-9.

“I feel like we dropped two games that we shouldn’t have,” Cox said. “It was kind of upsetting honestly, we should have [come] out of the weekend 4-0.”

Despite the frustration of losing two of the games by just one point, the team played well overall and, according to Hess, the tournament prepared the team for the postseason.

“[I think we played well] for the most part,” Hess said. “We competed [in] all four games and we very easily could have won each and every game out there, which is what you’re ultimately hoping for.”

Manhattan goes on to play Emporia away on Tuesday. If they sweep The Spartans, it will win the league for Manhattan.