It all comes down to a deciding playback rubber match tonight, July 21, that will be the final determining championship game of the American Legion District 17 baseball tournament.
In that showdown, top seed Vienna Post 180 (18-5) plays the No. 2 seed and defending champion Arlington Post 139 (16-6) at 7 p.m. at Waters Field in Vienna. Each team is 3-1 in the double-elimination tourney, including 1-1 against the other.
The playback clash was forced because Arlington blanked Vienna, 7-0, at Barcroft Park the night of July 20 in a game that would have decided the champion if Vienna had won. Arlington lost to Vienna, 6-3, earlier in the tournament.
In the July 20 rematch, three Arlington pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout, with right-handed starting and winning pitcher Henry Hultquist allowing one hit with three strikeouts in the four innings he worked. Left-handed reliever Lorenzo Snyder pitched 21/3 frames of three-hit shutout ball. Then, righty Chase Rubin closed the final 22/3, retiring all eight hitters he faced, with two strikeouts and four ground-ball outs. He needed just 23 pitches.
“We had great pitching, we played a solid game and took advantage of some of their mistakes,” Arlington manager Bob Romano said. “Henry was strong, I thought Lorenzo kept them off balance for a while with a different look, then Chase shut them down.”
Arlington had 10 hits and benefited from seven Vienna walks, a couple of errors, a missed played ball in the outfield, and a lost infield popup in the twilight.
First baseman Bobby McDonough (2 for 5) got Arlington started with a two-run, third-inning triple to right field that was misplayed by the Vienna outfielder. Leadoff batter Quinn Brennan had three hits and two stolen bases for Arlington, catcher James Thiriez had two hits and an RBI, Sam Merkel and Jordan Bussie had RBI singles, J.J. Foti had a hit and Dillon Bass walked with the bases loaded.
Arlington scored a single run in the seventh, then four in the top of the ninth on four hits and three walks.
Vienna’s Patrick Colyar had three of his team’s hits and Ethan Jones had the other.
After left-handed starter Tanner Vislay worked five innings of two-hit ball with nine strikeouts, Vienna used three other pitchers.
Right handers Mac Kopka for Vienna and Arlington’s Ketz Murray are expected to start tonight’s game. They have been each team’s workhorse starters this summer and arguably the top pitchers for each.
NOTES: Arlington defeated Vienna, 4-3, in the deciding game to win last summer’s district tournament, after finishing second to Springfield Post 176 the year before . . . Post 139 has never won consecutive district tournaments, but has won the title five times overall . . . Vienna last won the district tournament in 2019 . . . Romano has been Post 139’s manager since 2011. The team’s July 20 victory was his 150th since taking over as skipper. Romano won more than 200 games as the manager of the Harry E. Nelson Post 63 Legion team in Wakefield, Mass., from 1987 to 2010.