Junction City hosted the Manhattan Crusaders 12U team Sunday in a double-header at North Park as they prepare for their season opening tournament in Salina this weekend.
The first game was all Manhattan as they Crusaders rolled out to the 12-3 victory. The bright side for the team during the first game was that every batter hit the ball — most were just caught or put into a playable position allowing the Crusaders to earn the out on the field.
Catcher Blake Proietti scored the first run of the game after hitting a double to center field. The mishandled ball allowed Proietti to reach the bag standing up. He would later score on a single by Chase Lundberg.
Kingston Timms added a run in the second with Proietti adding the final run in the third.
Coach Brad Oentrich said he is happy to be back on the field in a game-type situation but Manhattan was able to capitalize on key situations in the first game.
“(It) was good to come and see what the kids had after just a couple of practices outside, and it was good to get one win,” he said. “We've got a lot to work on. But we're looking forward to tournament next weekend. A lot of nerves and then just compounding on mistakes. They took advantage of all of it, and a bad inning ended the game.”
The second game started with Manhattan taking the 3-0 lead in the first before the Crusaders added five more runs in the top of the second. A huge seven run inning quickly brought the Jays within striking distance of the Crusaders.
Two shut out innings later for the Jays defense, they found themselves with a two run lead heading into what would be the final inning. Each team scored one run with Junction City leading 11-9 for the split on the night.
“It was good for the kids to build the confidence and get a big inning back after they gave one up,” Oentrich said. “And we just made some switching around said hey you know we've got to do to get through this and they did and they persevered and it was good to get the lead and get a win.”
Oentrich said overall he was pleased with the teams performance and will break down the mistakes with the team this week as they prepare for their tournament Saturday and Sunday.
“You just got to break down every mistake we had, and build on it for the next coming tournament,” he said.
The tournament organizers will place Junction City into one of two pools of teams. From there, the top teams out of each pool will fill the bracket on Sunday for a chance at the championship.
“It's a big tournament so you get flighted into the brackets on Sunday,” he said. “There's some heavy competition over there but it's usually fun. We just always want to compete hard, We want the guys to be good sportsmen and go out and be competitive. And just represent the community of Junction City well.”