* This is a game recap from the June 28 Papillion La Vista – Lincoln Pius American Legion Baseball game at Duncan Field in Hastings, NE. This recap was featured in the June 29th edition of the Hastings Tribune.
The Associated Fire Titans American Legion baseball team overcame seven errors to hold on and beat Union Bank 7-6 Tuesday night in the Class A state legion baseball tournament at Duncan Field.
With the victory, Associated Fire (Papillion-La Vista South) advances to the American Division title game Wednesday against the 52’s Patriots (Millard South).
The first game begins at 4 p.m. at Duncan Field. A second game will fol- low, but only if the 52’s Patriots win game one.
Against Union Bank (Lincoln Pius X), Aaron Palensky led Association Fire with three hits on four plate appearances, while scoring two runs and driving in another.
“He’s pretty impressive for a sophomore, and he’s played that way the whole season,” Associated Fire head coach Bill Lynam said. “He’s just a real good baseball player.”
Union Bank struck first after a Nolan Hakel single, followed by a sacrifice bunt and an error by Papillion-La Vista South’s Adam Gadsden.
In the bottom of the third inning, Gadsden drew a walk and was driven home on a Palensky triple. Palnesky then scored on the next at-bat and Association Fire took a 2-1 lead.
Union Bank responded in the top of the fourth after Micah Hoage singled to left field. Union Bank drew a walk in two of three at-bats, and Hoage scored after another defensive error to tie the game at two.
Despite the slow start for Associated Fire relief pitcher Dakota Smith, which included allowing a leadoff single to Union Bank’s Colton Abendroth and two runs in the fifth inning, he found his stride and went on to pick up the win.
Pius extended its lead to three in the top of the sixth, thanks to an error, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. Associated Fire answered and trimmed Union Bank’s lead to two in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a Brandon Krayneski double and sacrifice fly from Quintin Van Ackeren.
After a pitching change in the seventh inning, Associated Fire found its rhythm at the plate and went on to add three runs in the bottom of the sev- enth.
“We were just happy to see a new pitcher in there,” Lynam said. “We didn’t try to do anything differently (at the plate). Just keep with the game plan, swing at strikes and hit the ball in play.”
That three-run inning, along with clutch pitching late in the game, was a pivotal part of the comeback victory, he said.
“We were able to come back and beat a really good baseball team in Pius. That says what kind of character we have and what kind of baseball we can play,” Lynam said. “I told them, ‘they’re growing up in front of our eyes this season.’”
Union Bank led a late chargein the top of the ninth, thanks to a Nolan Meyer single and back-to-back errors from Associated Fire. Despite those two errors, Jack Driscoll held on for the save.
Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s game, Lynam felt good about where his team had positioned itself by being theonly unbeaten team so far in the double-elimination tournament.
“If we lost, we had the opportunity to scout and the other teams would have to play. On the other side of the coin, Millard South has to beat us twice,” he said. “We were in a good position and we earned that by playing good baseball.”