Arlington edges Blair in playoff warm-up

By Grant Egger – [email protected]

The Arlington and Blair Senior Legion baseball teams put their full rosters to work Monday in each ball club’s final regular season game.
The Post 71 Eagles won 11-10 on their home field at Washington County Fairgrounds as the head coaches combined to use 12 pitchers.
“I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out,” Arlington coach Ed Menking said. “And we won.”
The skipper used six pitchers, including two in the final run to fend off the Post 154 Bears rally. The focus of the evening was to get the players into the game and prepare for today’s start of the Class B Zone Tournament in Blair.
“I thought we did exactly what we needed to do,” Menking said.
His team takes on Springfield at 2 p.m. at Vets Field, while Blair hosts Fort Calhoun in another Zone 3-8 first-round game. Monday in Arlington was to instill a “next man mentality.” in this postseason game with Post 348.
“If the left fielder goes down, we better have someone who can play in left field,” he said.
The ever-changing lineups gave Arlington a 5-4 lead in 5.5 innings Monday. However, another twelve runs were scored over the next six outs.
First, Post 71 pushed their home lead to 11-4 with a six-point bottom in the sixth. Braden Monke hit an RBI double to right center field before Logan Kaup hit a two RBI single and Trevor Denker made his fourth run on a 4-on-4 night.
Colton Willmott and Killian McIntosh then added their own RBI swings as Arlington seemingly put away their neighbor, who beat them 12-10 on July 11.
The Bears weren’t done at home plate, however. They scored six of their own before Eagles pitcher Nick Smith finally caused the game-ending popout. Before that, however, Conner O’Neil, Bo Nielsen, Kolton Hammer and Dylan Swanson turned their last at bats into Post 154 runs.
Overall, O’Neil and Nielsen finished with three nights of RBI on the road. Arlington’s Denker and Kaup combined seven RBIs total.
“As (assistant) coach (Rusty) Hilgenkamp said, we got a lot of input from a lot of different people today,” Menking said. “What you will need, if we start, a five-day tournament.”
His team’s goal for the Zone 3 tournament is to play a clean and 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 some good baseball and see what happens.
Billslend is also looking for solid, fundamental play from his Post 154 Bears.
“We just need to play full baseball,” he said. “I know it’s a cliché and every American coach says it, but if you play great defense and get hits in time and do the little things right, you’ll be in a good position. “
The best place would be the state tournament after five days of districts on Vets Field.
“Win five games and go to Broken Bow,” Billlend said of his goals from the weekend. “It’s the wait.”