Manchester moves to districts for second time in four seasons
By Mark Carpenter
Funny how history sometimes repeats itself. In May of 1991, a tall right hander from Manchester High School faced the Green Bobcats in the district tournament in Athens. On that day, righty Kelly Frost threw a one-hit shutout as the Hounds defeated the Bobcats 1-0. On Tuesday afternoon, another Manchester right hander went to the Mound to face Green, this time in a sectional championship contest. Though because of the weather, the battle took two days to complete, this Manchester righty, Sean Frost, nearly repeated his father’s performance, as he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up with a two-hit shutout as the Hounds won the Division IV sectional title, defeating Green by the identical score of 1-0.
The younger Frost was masterful in leading the Hounds to the district tournament, pitching the first 4 2/3 shutout innings on Tuesday at Green, before severe weather forced the game to be suspended until the next day. Back in Franklin Furnace on Wednesday, Frost finished off the Bobcats and made an RBI by fellow senior Mason Applegate stand up in the one-run win that propelled Manchester to its second district tourney in four seasons.
“I’m so happy for Sean,” said Manchester head coach Kyle Brewer. “All of our seniors have been through it, the guys I’ve coached for all four years. It’s just a blessing to get them a win and get them back to Paints Stadium. All teams want to get to distrcit play and we are just so fortunate. This was an awesome game to be in.”
“It feels great right now, I can’t put it into words,” said Frost after the game. “I would have rather played it all in one day and got it over with but we came back today and fought hard, fought adversity the whole game. Our defense was really there for me and I can’t thank those guys enough. without them we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
From the beginning of this sectional title game, it was obvious that fans were going to be treated to a pitcher’s duel between Frost and Green’s hard-throwing Trevor Carver, who matched each other pitch for pitch and with zeroes on the scoreboard. Both teams went down in order in the first and in the top of the second, the Hounds got the game’s first base runner when Colton Thornburg reached on an error and then was sacrificed to second by Applegate. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Thornburg was left stranded after both Kaulen Cox and Jared Stricklett went down swinging.
The host Bobcats came very close to scoring a run in their half of the second, when with one out, Hunter Lewis reached on a dropped third strike and went all the way to third when catcher Thornburg’s throw sailed into right field. Thornburg more than made up for the errant throw when Lewis tried to score on a wild pitch. Thornburg retrieved the ball and tossed it to the covering Frost who put down the tag for the out, keeping the Cats off the board.
The game was still scoreless in the top of the fourth when Frost led off with the first Greyhound hit of the day, a solid single to left, stole second, and moved to third on a fly out to center off the bat of Thornburg. That brought Applegate to the plate with one out and he did the job, nailing a hard shot off of the pitcher Carver, who recovered to throw Applegate out at the plate but not before Frost raced across with the game’s first run.
“With Sean on third I knew that this was going to be a defensive game and we might just need one to win,” said Applegate after the win. “I just sat back on a fastball and drove it as hard as I could, it was probably the hardest ball I’ve hit all year.”
Frost ran into his first trouble of the game when Green came to bat in the bottom half of the fourth. With one out, Frost’s control abandoned him as he walked back to back hitters and then intentionally walked Carver to load the bases. The Manchester starter regained his groove and struck out the next hitter on three pitches, then got a ground ball to third baseman Cox who stepped on third for the force to end the threat.
The Hounds got a base hit from Jared Stricklett in the top of the fifth and with two outs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a nifty double play started by an Applegate diving catch, the dark clouds hovering over the field produced lightning and then heavy downpours, forcing the two teams to abandon play until the next day.
When action resumed, Frost struck out the first batter he faced to keep his shutout and no-hitter intact. The Manchester hurler got his second base hit of the game in the top of the sixth but was left stranded a second when Applegate flied out to left.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bobcats put together another threat, beginning with their first hit of the game, a bloop single to right by lead off hitter Tanner Kimbler. One out later, Josh Karshner dropped a single to left in front of left fielder Kaige Cox and with two outs, Lewis drew a walk to again fill the bases. Again, though, Frost was up to the task as he struck out Hayden Whitis looking to retire the side.
That took the 1-0 game into the seventh and after the Hounds failed to score, the season came down to three more outs. Those three outs came very rapidly as Frost struck out the side, all three looking, and the jubilant Greyhounds raced onto the field to celebrate their sectional championship.
“We’ve had a season of ups and downs, u-turns, just everything in between,” said Coach Brewer. “These guys just fight with all their heart no matter what adversity they faced. Last night and tonight we just overcame with so much heart and effort. I’m just so proud of these guys.”
“We had high expectations coming into our senior year,” added Applegate. “We had some rough times during the season but now we are back to the districts.”
Pitching ruled the day as the two teams combined for just five hits, with Frost going all the way to pick up his third win of the season, racking up 11 strikeouts along the way and getting some solid defensive work behind him, especially from shortstop Hunter Conley, who handled every chance on the day without a miscue.
The win sends the Greyhounds (6-9) back to the Division IV District tournament and they will be back in action on Sunday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at VA Memorial Stadium, facing off with number seven seeded Belpre, an upset winner over South Webster in the sectional finals. A win on Sunday evening would advance the Hounds to a district title game, back at VA Memorial on Monday night at 7 p.m.
MHS 000 100 0 —1
GHS 000 000 0 —0
MHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): DeAtley 3-0-0-0, Conley 3-0-0-0, Frost 3-1-2-0, Thornburg 3-0-0-0, Applegate 2-0-0-1, Kaulen Cox 3-0-0-0, Stricklett 3-0-1-0, Lucas 3-0-0-0, Kaige Cox 2-0-0-0, Team 25-1-3-1.
GHS Hitting (AB-R-H-RBI): Kimbler 3-0-1-0, Tayte Carver 2-0-0-0, Karshner 2-0-1-0, Trevor Carver 2-0-0-0, Lewis 2-0-0-0, Whitis 3-0-0-0, Maynard 2-0-0-0, Johnson 3-0-0-0, Darnell 3-0-0-0, Team 22-0-2-0.
MHS Pitching: Frost (W) 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 11 K, 112 pitches
GHS Pitching: Trevor Carter (L) 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 63 pitches
Karshner 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3K, 31 pitches