At the start of the high school baseball season, the Arlington Eagles built leads and lost them late.
The opposite happened Saturday during a 17-11 win against Thurston-Cuming County at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Coach Tyler Stender's team gave up six runs during the top half of the first inning, but fought back.
“It's a big improvement from the beginning of the year,” AHS senior Zach Vanek said.
Catcher Nick Smith led the way, going 4-for-5 at the plate with a home run and four RBIs. Infielder Dustin Kirk had four hits and four RBIs, too. Their Eagles scored four runs after the Thunder's top half and battled back to a 9-9 tie with five runs during the bottom of the third frame.
“We just knew if we could get some hits going, like keep the momentum going inning-by-inning, we knew our defense could back us up,” Vanek said. “The problem is just consistency and all that.”
Kirk pulled Arlington within 9-5 during the third with a hit to left field. From there, Josh Miller and Smith pulled the Eagles within one run with a single.
Smith's courtesy runner, Weston Wollberg, scored the tying run when Trevor Denker hit a grounder into a Thurston-Cuming County error.
The Thunder scored two runs in response to AHS' big inning, but the Eagles earned their first lead with three and never looked back. Jack Bang notched an RBI and Kirk hit an RBI ground-rule double before scoring on an error in left field.
From there, Arlington pitcher Kaden Pittman and his defense held their opposition scoreless. Aiden Foreman closed out the first of three scoreless frames with a diving catch at first base.
In addition, the Eagles added runs. Vanek pushed across two runs, Bang notched an RBI single and Kirk hit a two-RBI double.
The win was the Eagles' seventh of the season.
“As of right now, it's about getting 'Ws' and getting some momentum going,” Bang said. “Hopefully, we'll carry that through districts.”
The Eagles were scheduled to play Wayne on Monday, are set to play at Omaha Gross today and start Class B-5 District play Thursday at Christensen Field in Beatrice. Arlington faces Lincoln Christian at 6 p.m. in their postseason opener.
Eagles fall on road
On Friday, Wahoo/Neumann/Lincoln Lutheran hosted Arlington and defeated the Eagles 10-2. The home team led 7-0 through one inning and earned the eight-run victory with nine more hits, 12-3.
Dustin Kirk pitched 3 2/3 innings for AHS, finishing with two strikeouts.