Inconsistency dooms baseball to split doubleheader

Jacob Clanton, Sports Editor

Rain and baseball don’t mix. Typically, when the rain starts falling, the game stops. The only reason the game keeps going? A turf field.

Manhattan High (7-3) had that luxury Friday night, as it split a doubleheader at Shawnee Heights losing 5-1 in the first game before bouncing back to take game two 6-3.

The Indians struck first in game one, as senior Ed Scott put MHS on the board with a dash home on a wild pitch. The lead wouldn’t last long, as Shawnee Heights would score the same way on a wild pitch from senior Nick Wohler, the starting pitcher, in the bottom of the inning.  

Though there were some pitching miscues, overall there were few problems.

“I thought the pitching was good,” head coach Don Hess said. “Nick obviously threw well, Ethan [Kaus, junior] threw well, Carson [Marsh, junior] threw well. Our challenge is now what do we got to do to get more pitching depth, and Brady [Woborny, senior] was loose and ready to go.”

Though pitching wasn’t a problem, Manhattan couldn’t get any offense going in the first game.

“[The reason for the loss was] just not good solid at-bats back to back,” Hess said. “We’d hit a ball hard or we’d a guy on base, we just couldn’t get the big hit when we needed it. It just boils down to that, that they managed to string a couple hits together, and we just didn’t do it, for whatever reason.”

Shawnee Heights was able to string together those hits in the fifth inning, getting two consecutive singles off of Wohler. Hitting a batter with a pitch loaded the bases, and ended Wohler’s day, bringing in Marsh. Two pitches later, Shawnee hit a double, clearing the bases and putting the Thunderbirds up 5-1. Neither team would score again, giving Shawnee the win.

Between games, the team had a chance to assess what went wrong and what needed to be fixed.

“We talked about the fact that we hit some balls hard in the first game,” Hess said, “but more than anything else, we talked about the need for quality at-bats. Whether we get hits or not, we got to work the pitch count up. We talked about the fact that Shawnee Heights, in the first game, had more quality at-bats than we did, and that’s why they won. I think our motivation the second game was to try and be productive, even if we make an out.”

The players knew they could play better.

“Coach as well,” Woborny, the starting catcher, said, “but just us players too, I mean, I think we both realize that that wasn’t our potential that we can go to and just bringing it out the second game, that’s what we knew we had to do, losing that first game 5-1, we knew we had to come back strong, so that was our main motive that second game.”

Part of the issue for MHS was the lack of energy the first game. That energy was present in the second game, leading to a much quicker start and a much louder dugout.

“If we have energy,” Woborny said, “everybody’s excited, everybody’s in the game. Like people who aren’t in as much, they’re still in the game, if they’re [energetic] in the dugout, just a lot of stuff can be done when it’s like that, and I think that helped a lot.”

The Indians’ offense was more productive, as they were able to score five runs in the third and fourth innings combined, thanks to more quality at-bats.

Manhattan had to deal with the rain as well. Though the team was used to rain, this was the first game actually played in it. However, it didn’t affect the team too much.

“I think it impacted just the ability to throw the baseball,” Hess said. “[It] maybe affected them more than us because they hit some fly balls. We didn’t have too many ground balls we had to field, but we bunted and it seemed like a couple times they threw high to first base. It probably impacted the game, just not as much as you would think it might have.”

The pitching was solid in the second game as well, as Kaus and Marsh combined for one earned run in seven innings of work.

“Pitching, our pitchers did great,” Woborny said. “Kaus, very good that second game, hitting spots, and for Carson to come back in that second game too was big for us, so I was very pleased with the pitchers, they did very well.”

Manhattan did have some issues fielding the ball. On two consecutive hits, the infield dropped the popup. Though it was raining, Hess didn’t feel like that impacted it.

“I think the first one,” Hess said, “Cade [Creed, junior] just didn’t feel comfortable catching it, and I think with Zach [Cox’s, sophomore], I think he…tried to overemphasize his catch, and in doing so, he kind of tensed up and made the same mistake. It’s a learning moment. The big thing is, you know, those were two really, really tough runs, because of those plays, to give up, but we responded, and we talked about the fact that there’s going to be adversity and we have to be able to respond.”

Though Manhattan had some issues, they were not enough to keep the Indians from winning 6-3.

MHS’ next game is April 25 at Emporia, a team it was swept by last year. The Indians hope to build off of the second game against Shawnee, and play a complete doubleheader.

“I’m tired of splitting,” Woborny said. “I want to win both games. I want to play them just like the better one. Put those together and, you know, I think we’re going to be very well off, things are going to start going well.”