The Arlington Senior Legion baseball team finished Sunday's Ralph Bishop League Tournament final as champions.
The Post 71 squad was its bracket's runner-up.
When asked what aspect he was most happy with, Eagles coach Ed Menking picked neither hitting or pitching. He went with the third option presented to him — intangibles.
“When talent is fairly even, or even when it's not, the group that thinks the game — is in the game — almost always has a chance,” he said.
In the Ralph Bishop tourney, Arlington made the most of their chances on the diamond.
Seniors best West Point 3-0
“I'd say it's about attitude,” Menking said of his 11-7 Senior Legion team.
The Eagles' 3-0 championship win over West Point in Wakefield impressed, but not, necessarily, because of Logan Kirk's five innings of no-hit baseball or Tyson Nicola's two RBIs.
Menking said it was his young men's unselfishness with a title on the line. Egos can play a role in Senior Legion baseball, but the Eagles are focused on more than just themselves as the season winds down in its final month.
“That's hard for a 17-, 18-year-old kid, or an adult for that matter, and something that, quite frankly, impresses me more than anything that happens on the field,” Menking said.
Kirk earned the win with 11 strikeouts, while Tanner Pittman pitched the last two scoreless innings for Arlington. Nicola had an RBI single, and pushed across another run on a fielder's choice, while Cameron Bruning contributed a run-scoring sacrifice.
In the end, Menking said the Eagles had what it took to become champions.
A day earlier, the Post 71 Seniors won a 5-2, eight-inning game against Wakefield for the right to face West Point in Sunday's final. Braden Rump pitched all eight frames, finishing with just four hits allowed and six strikeouts.
Bruning was also a heavy contributor defensively, finishing with six put-outs, including a diving catch in the seventh.
The Eagles scored three eighth-inning runs for the win. Pittman scored on an error, Nicola hit an RBI single and Kirk notched an sacrifice bunt.
Arlington Juniors finish 2nd in RBL
The Arlington Juniors lost their Ralph Bishop title game to Wayne 6-5, but Menking believes they could have won it. The Eagles led 5-4 before giving up the last two runs of the ballgame.
“We didn't handle the situations well, which as we talked about after the game, is on us. The kids work on situation after situation all year long, but there always seems to be a twist,” Menking said. “As (coach) Rusty (Hilgenkamp) says, if there are men on base and a ball is put in play, there are about 99 different things that can happen. But that is no excuse. We have to have them better prepared and in better position, and that is on us as coaches.”
Josh Miller led Arlington with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Aiden Foreman also had two hits, while both Nicholas Smith and Colby Grefe also came up big at the plate with a couple of hits.
In defeat, Menking was proud of his players. They impressed and, he expects, they will continue to.
“There's a saying, 'that if a dog's going to bite it will start as a pup,' and this pup is getting some teeth,” the coach noted.
The Eagles advanced to the Ralph Bishop League title game Saturday with a 2-0 victory against Battle Creek.
Foreman earned the pitching win, setting up the championship game against Wayne. He allowed just two hits, striking three batters out.
Smith and Isaac Foust provided the Eagles' second-inning RBIs. Smith drove in Logan Kaup, while Foust scored courtesy runner Braden Monke with a sacrifice fly.
The Arlington Juniors start B3 Area Tournament play 5:30 p.m. today in Valley. The Eagles play Wayne once again.