The Arlington and Blair Senior Legion baseball teams put their full rosters to work Monday during each ballclubs' final regular season game.
The Post 71 Eagles won 11-10 on their home diamond at the Washington County Fairgrounds as the head coaches combined to use 12 pitchers.
“I'm fairly pleased with how it all turned out,” Arlington coach Ed Menking said. “And we got a win.”
The skipper used six hurlers, including two during the final inning to hold off the Post 154 Bears' rally. The night's goal was to get players into the game and ready for today's start to the Class B Area Tournament in Blair.
“I thought we did exactly what we needed to do,” Menking said.
His team faces Springfield at 2 p.m. on Vets Field, while Blair hosts Fort Calhoun in another first round Area 3 matchup at 8. Post 154 coach James Bilslend's goal for Monday's game in Arlington was to instill a “next-man-up mentality” going into that postseason game with Post 348.
“If the left fielder goes down, we better have somebody that can go play left field,” he said.
Constantly changing lineups resulted in a 5-4 Arlington lead through 5.5 innings Monday. Twelve more runs were scored, however, across the next six outs.
First, Post 71 pushed its home lead to 11-4 with a six-run bottom of the sixth. Braden Monke hit an RBI double to right-centerfield before Logan Kaup hit a two-RBI single and Trevor Denker pushed across his fourth run on a 4-for-4 night.
Colton Willmott and Killian McIntosh then added their own RBI swings as Arlington seemingly put away its neighbor, which beat it 12-10 on July 11.
The Bears weren't done at the plate, though. They scored six of their own runs before Eagles pitcher Nick Smith finally induced the game-ending popout. Before that, though, Conner O'Neil, Bo Nielsen, Kolton Hammer and Dylan Swanson turned their final at-bats into Post 154 runs.
Overall, O'Neil and Nielsen finished with three-RBI nights on the road. Arlington's Denker and Kaup combined for seven RBIs total.
“Like (assistant) coach (Rusty) Hilgenkamp said, we got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people today,” Menking said. “Which you're going to need over, if we get that going, a five-day tournament.”
His team's goal for the Area 3 tourney is to play clean, competitive ball.
“If you play good baseball and you get beat, then you get beat,” Menking explained. “If you play bad baseball and you lose, that's a different story. So, we should just go play good baseball and see what happens.”
Bilslend is looking for strong, fundamental play from his Post 154 Bears, too.
“We just need to play complete baseball,” he said. “I know it's a cliché and every coach in America says it, but if you play great defense and you get timely hits and do the little things right, you'll be in a good spot.”
The best spot would be the state tourney after five days of districts on Vets Field.
“Win five games and go to Broken Bow,” Bilslend said of his weekend goals. “That's the expectation.”
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