Patience led the Arlington Junior Legion baseball team to the Class B State Tournament.
It took until the eighth inning of the Eagles' Area 2 semifinal for coach Tyler Stender's team to break through, but it did. Arlington won and earned Saturday's matchup with Waverly — a game the Vikings earned, 5-0.
In a 4-4 Wednesday night ballgame in Ashland, though, Post 71's Blaine Vogt earned a walked against fellow Area 2 semifinalist, Lincoln Lutheran. Next up, Dalton Newcomer secured his own free base, allowing Braden Monke to hit both baserunners home, pushing the Eagles out front in extra innings.
Pitcher Trevor Denker finally earned a victory in his stat line after 7 1/3 innings as Arlington advanced, 6-4. It lost the district title game that followed, but earned a trip to Waverly all the same.
“It was a good atmosphere all-around,” Stender said.
In a rematch of that Area 2 championship tilt, the Eagles opened state play Saturday with another game against their hosts. Arlington lost the brief, 90-minute game by five runs.
“There's not going to be any bad players,” Monke said of his first impressions of state competition. “They're all pretty decent.”
The teams played scoreless baseball through three innings before Waverly notched four runs during the bottom of the fourth frame. The first Viking scored on an RBI single on the ground before three doubles plated three more baserunners.
Waverly added one more run during the fifth inning and won by that score, 5-0. Offensively, the Eagles just couldn't quite match their opposition.
“I think we need to be more aggressive with less than two outs,” Monke said. “That's when we had most of our strikeouts. We have to have productive outs in those situations.”
Kaden Pittman, Newcomer, Nick Smith, Denker and Dustin Kirk reached base for Arlington in the seven-inning game, but none scored.
Defensively, Arlington played well on the mound and out in the field, according to coach Stender. Smith took the pitching loss, but the defense played well enough to win overall.
“They told us it was pretty good,” Monke said of his coaches' impressions of the Eagles' defensive play. “Just to keep doing what we're doing.
Against Lincoln Lutheran, though, Denker picked up the pitching win that punched Post 71's state ticket. His team outhit its foe 8-7 over eight innings, winning on Monke's eighth-inning double.
Darren Olson, meanwhile, went 2-for-4 in the state tournament clincher. Smith was 2-for-2 with a triple.
In the 10-2 district final loss to Waverly that followed, Olson added two more hits and an RBI. The Eagles were outhit 14-2, however, dropping the game in Ashland by eight runs.
The Class B State Juniors Tournament continued Sunday. The Eagles were set to play an elimination game. Results can be found online at enterprisepub.com/sports or in Friday's Washington County Enterprise edition.