When the Wabash baseball sectional got underway last Wednesday, there was a lot of ”expert” talk about who would take the title. In most cases the Manchester Squires were not even mentioned. The Squires however believed in themselves and went about their business, taking care of Rochester in the opening round before upsetting Lewis Cass in the semi finals. On Monday Manchester had the task of taking on favorite, #7 Oak Hill in the championship and once again silenced all non believers, jumping on the Eagles early and holding on for a 7-4 win to win their first sectional title since 2005 and 9th overall.
Being the visitors the Squires batted first and jumped on Oak Hill right away. With one out Kane Gable and Rylie Rickert drew back to back walks before Hayes Sturtsman reached on an error to load the bases. Zach Hill was then hit by a pitch that forced home Gable before a Janzin Cripe grounder scored Rickert for a 2-0 lead. It looked as though the Eagles would answer in the bottom of the inning as the Squires defense was a little shaky, but came through with a put out at home and a force play to get out of the inning.
Manchester would add another run in the second. Trey McNall led off with a walk and was followed by a Landon Tharp double to score McNall for a 3-0 lead. With Tharp standing on third with no outs after advancing on the throw to home the Squires couldn’t get him home and led 3-0.
Oak Hill would get the goose egg off the board in the fourth off two singles and a hit batter, but again the Squires escaped with minimal damage.
After giving up a run in the fourth the Squires answered in the fifth. With one out Gable would draw a walk before being picked off and was followed by Rickert drawing a walk. Rickert would advance to second on a wild pitch before Sturtsman found the gap in right center for a double to score Rickert and make it 4-1. Zach Hill would then walk before a Cripe single scored Sturtsman to lead 5-1.
Sturtsman would continue to dominate on the mound as the game went to the seventh still 5-1. In the top of the seventh Rickert would lead off with a walk that was followed by a Sturtsman triple to give Manchester a 6-1 lead. Sturtsman would score the final Squire run on a wild pitch for a 7-1 lead before things got interesting in the bottom of the inning. Sturtsman would strike out the first batter before hitting the second. After a walk and an error loaded the bases Oak Hill would score a run on a single to make it 7-2 and still had the bases loaded. Another single scored two runs to make it 7-4 with runners on the corners when Sturtsman forced a pop up to McAtee at short for the second out, then watched Janzin Cripe squeeze a fly ball to right for the final out that gave the Squires the sectional championship.
Photos By Anna Markham