No matter the game, every single strikeout, at-bat or base hit made history for Lincoln Christian this season.
The Crusaders won their first-ever game as a baseball program on March 23, but there was no beginner’s luck in Lincoln Christian’s inaugural district game. Lincoln Christian rallied from an early 7-1 deficit but fell just short in the seventh inning of a 10-9 loss to Arlington in the opening round of B-5 district on Thursday in Beatrice.
Much like they had all season, the Crusaders never lost their fighting spirit.
Arlington (10-9) scored seven runs over the game’s first two innings, but Lincoln Christian (7-8) kept them off the board until the sixth inning. The Crusaders trimmed the deficit all the way to 7-6, but Arlington’s three-run sixth inning established a 10-6 lead.
“Unfortunately, we just kind of got in a hole there, but our boys are scrappy and they showed a lot of grit, character and determination to get back in the game,” Lincoln Christian coach Jason Bingham said. “It was only the second inning, so we just kept clawing away.”
Seniors Alex Bingham and Jackson Emanuel contributed RBIs in the sixth and seventh innings, but the spirited comeback ended with a bases-loaded popup that featured a spectacular defensive play from the Arlington first baseman.
Lincoln Christian has the third-smallest player pool in Class B, but still managed to win half of its regular-season games and earn a three seed in districts. That feat alone made this season worthwhile for Bingham, but it was also special thanks to the group of seniors.
When Bingham first started coaching the legion program, the current seniors were freshmen. Those four years have led to growth within the Lincoln Christian program, and of course, the school’s first varsity season.
Crusader seniors Hank Ball, Alex Bingham, Grant Doty, Jackson Emanuel and Trenton Lanka saw that process from start to finish as Lincoln Christian’s first group of seniors.
“They’ve been playing on the senior Legion team since they were freshmen; that’s how depleted the baseball was at Lincoln Christian,” Bingham said. “They’ve been getting their teeth kicked in for a couple of years, and last year we finally turned the corner. They’re scrappy, they’re good kids and I’ve enjoyed them a lot.”
B-1 at Hastings: Pinch-hitter William Robert hit a walk-off RBI single to lift Plattsmouth to a 4-3 win against Auburn in eight innings. Clyde Hinton pitched six-plus innings and struck out seven for the Blue Devils. Travon Shaw had three hits and two RBIs for the Bulldogs.
B-2 at Hickman: Keegan Doggett laced a three-RBI double for GACC-SS-WPB in the top of the second, when the Patriots scored six times en route to a 10-4 victory against Platte Valley. Doggett finished with four RBIs on two hits and Reese Schlect recorded 13 strikeouts on the mound. Jake Butler led Platte Valley with a two-run blast in the bottom of the second inning.
B-3 at Elkhorn: Fairbury scored five runs over the final two innings in a 5-4 victory over Branched Oak. Brody Kroll struck out 12 and limited the Bucks to just four hits. Connor Zegar led Branched Oak with two hits. In the other Thursday matchup, Omaha Roncalli made quick work of Crete scoring all 14 of its runs in the first four innings in a 14-2 triumph. The Crimson Pride allowed just three hits over five innings as Jack Nilsson and Nate McCoy combined to strikeout eight. Konner Schluckebier led the Cardinals with a double and two RBIs.
B-4 at Omaha Skutt: Cooper Hancock's RBI sacrifice fly in the fourth inning proved to be the difference in Wahoo/Bishop Neumann's 3-2 win against Thurston-Cuming County. Aaron Ickler tossed four innings of relief for the Warriors. Wahoo/BN/LL trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning before scoring twice with Colin Ludvik at the plate. Hancock scored on a passed ball and Ludvik hit into an RBI-groundout to drive in Ryan Raabe to tie the game 2-2.
B-5 at Beatrice: Arlington edged Lincoln Christian 10-9 to advance to Friday's semifinals. Jack Bang had two doubles and three RBIs for the Eagles. Alex Bingham drove in three runs for the Crusaders, who finished with 10 hits. Nebraska City overcame a 4-2 deficit in the top of the fourth inning with a four-run burst in a 9-4 victory over St. Paul. Cael Kreifel tossed a complete game for the Pioneers and did not allow a run after the third inning.