Baseball splits off-day Washburn Rural doubleheader

Jacob Clanton, Sports Editor

Even though Manhattan High had a day off from school Friday, the baseball team still had to play. MHS split the doubleheader with Washburn Rural, losing 2-1 in the first game and winning the nightcap 8-2.

In the first game, Manhattan’s big problem was its inability to execute.

“Obviously the first game we had some opportunities,” head coach Don Hess said, “we just couldn’t push the runs across. We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. Both runs that scored in the first game, I believe, were a result of the runner getting on by walk. Then we kind of overran a tough ball in right field for the winning run.”

The Indian pitchers gave MHS a chance.

“You’d think with the wind blowing out that it was going to be 18-15 scores,” Hess said. “I thought that Nick [Wohler, senior] really rebounded from a sub-par outing for him, I thought he was incredible tonight. Really, I thought Carson [Marsh, junior] was very good in the first game, he just had that walk, and that ball out to right field, but other than that, he was good.”

Wohler pitched the first six innings, giving up one run on five hits. Marsh came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh, giving up a leadoff walk that became the game-winning run.

“Leadoff walks kill,” senior Chance Henderson said. “Everybody knows that in baseball. They executed and they came out on top for it.”

The winning run came off of Washburn sophomore Payton Smith’s bat, as the ball landed in right field, out of the fielder’s reach. However, MHS couldn’t pout, as there was still a game to be played.

“[Between games] we talked about the fact that you have to, in a game like that, you have to be prepared,” Hess said. “You have to understand that walks come back and bit you, and when we don’t score guys from third base with less than two outs, that’s on us. For us, it was a learning opportunity. Did we want to win it? Absolutely, you want to win every game you can, but at the same time, it was a learning moment because these guys need to understand that that could be a regional championship game right there.”

The walkoff loss gave Manhattan additional desire to win heading into the second game.

“We definitely had a chip on our shoulder, coming here we did,” Henderson said, “for them knocking us out of regionals last year. Coming off with that walkoff was a tough pill to swallow, and we were really angry and wanted to get back out there to play some ball.”

In the second game, the Indians got the big hits they were missing earlier, scoring eight runs in two innings to take an 8-2 lead.

“[It was] just the energy,” Henderson said. “It’s going to come, it just happens. We’ll find gaps and we’ll find wholes. Energy’s key in baseball. If you’re out there and you’re throwing strikes, you’re hitting balls, game comes easy, it’s fun.”

Junior Ethan Kaus opened the second game pitching for MHS, lasting three innings. Kaus gave up two runs on one hit, before Marsh came in as relief. Marsh pitched the final four innings, shutting out the Junior Blues while giving up three hits.

“Ethan wasn’t at his best tonight the second game,” Hess said, “but he gave us a chance, and that’s what we ask. And then Carson, I was just tickled to death to see him come in and have an opportunity to correct his day, and he was marvelous.”

Fielding was not lacking for Manhattan either.

“I thought we did a marvelous job actually,” Hess said. “Chance Henderson made some great plays at third, and [Zac Cox, sophomore] played a great game at short, our outfielders continued to make the proper reads and proper throws. Defensively, I liked what I saw.”

Henderson’s great plays came after a subpar outing last game.

“Last outing, I didn’t do very good on the outfield,” Henderson said, “and [so I] took some effort rounds, and extra reps in the infield today during practice, and just had my head straight on.”

The Indians’ next outing is Tuesday against Highland Park at home. MHS is looking to find more players who could pitch later on in the year.

“We’re at that point in the year where we really, truly have to find some other pitchers,” Hess said.  “We made it through kind of a tougher stretch here, and we’re not going to overlook Highland Park at all, but we are forced right now to have to go deeper into our bullpen and find other pitchers.”