Arlington Senior Legion baseball coach Ed Menking thanked and underhand tossed a pair of team-signed baseballs to Zach Vanek and Wes Martens on Monday evening at Vets Field.
The pair returned for one more season after graduating from AHS in 2021.
“It was a pleasure,” Vanek said, shaking his grey-bearded ball coach's hand.
Minutes earlier, the Post 71 Eagles' season ended on a 10-2 loss to Elkhorn Training Camp/Mount Michael in Class B Area 3 Tournament play. They started a 2-2 tourney run with wins against Springfield and Waterloo-Valley, but closed it Sunday and Monday with back-to-back losses to Blair and the Knights.
“I'm not disappointed,” Menking said. “They played hard. They listened. They worked and I think we've got some younger kids we can build on.”
Those Eagles got their last game action of the summer in a five-inning, run-rule defeat. Arlington scored a 2-1 advantage during the top of the second frame, but it didn't last through the bottom half.
Mount Michael's lead then jumped from 4-2 to 10-2 — the final score — with a six-run third. A Post 71 error, walk and passed ball contributed to the Knights' output.
“I'm not singling anybody out, but we make some plays and it's 4-2, 5-2,” Menking said. “It's a whole 'nother ballgame, so, obviously, your outlook looks different.”
Instead, despite singles by Braden Monke and Logan Kaup, and Nick Smith's fifth-inning double, the Eagles lost in a game that lasted well under 2 hours.
“Wasn't our finest moment,” Menking said. “But that's just the way our year's kind of gone.”
Arlington finished 11-16, suffering the 16th loss despite RBI swings by both Martens and Kaup.
Post 71 drops Sunday night game
Arlington's first loss of the Area tournament came to its host, Blair, on Sunday.
The Eagles battled within 3-1 through five innings, but lost their grip of the game during the top of the sixth frame. Ethan Baessler hit an inside-the-park grand slam as Post 154 jumped out to a nine-run advantage, winning 10-1.
“That was one of those plays that you could just hear, literally, the air come out of the balloon,” Menking said.
Post 71 pitcher Tyler Ott suffered the loss despite five strikeouts, while Dalton Newcomer notched the Eagles' lone RBI against the home team. Newcomer also had a team-best two hits, while Kaup and Smith had one apiece.
Arlington batters struck out seven times against the Bears' Morgan Rump. They also walked four times with Jack Bang drawing two.
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