Late during Friday's game in Scribner, Arlington Senior Legion baseball coach Ed Menking encouraged his pitcher with a request.
“Come on, give me a ground ball,” he said from the dugout. “Let's get out of here.”
Tanner Pittman did him one better with a strikeout, closing out a 12-0 victory against the Hoooper-Scribner ballclub. The win came on opening day for the Eagles, who, like the rest of the state, sat out spring ball and the traditional start of the American Legion season.
“My form has been good for the first game,” said Arlington slugger Cooper Hilgenkamp after a four-RBI performance. His team jumped out to a quick lead and were never really threatened during the five-inning victory, which was earned on the hill by pitcher Braden Rump.
“It's really nice to get on the mound and not just in a bullpen every practice,” the lefty said after moving to 1-0.
Arlington started its season with a 2-0 first inning with Hilgenkamp and Rump tallying RBIs.
“It was perfect,” the latter said. “I always tell my teammates 'thank God' for that (run support) because I want to get out there and just not have so much pressure to keep them off the scoreboard.”
The runs added up during the second frame, too. Josh Miller was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before Pittman and Rump tallied their own RBIs. Hilgenkamp's two-run knock pushed the Eagles' lead to 7-0.
Aiden Foreman added an RBI along the way, while multiple more runs scored on Hooper errors as the defense navigated inning after inning without allowing a run.
While the Arlington Seniors appeared seasoned on the scoreboard, some aspects of their game still needed work after the 12-run effort. Hilgenkamp, who led the way offensively, had a bit of discomfort during and after a run-scoring slide during the later stages of the game. He laughed about the play afterward.
“The dirt is a little tough out there,” the slugger said. “You can't slide easy.”
Arlington did, however, win fairly easy on the road to start its 2020 campaign.