Burlington legion team hoping for state run

With two games remaining in region play, the Burlington Legion baseball team has its eyes set on the No. 1 seed for the region tournament.

Burlington is in the driver’s seat for the region’s top seed with a 8-2 region record (9-7 overall) and can lock it up by besting Stanley and Tioga this week.

“Overall we’ve done well in the region but we’ve struggled in non region play,” Burlington coach Sean Arbaut said. “Our goal for the season is to make it to state. All we have to do is finish first or second in the regional tournament and then we’ll get there. We just have to find a way to get to that championship day.”

Offensively, speed is a big part of Burlington’s game. Opposing catchers haven’t had much luck throwing runners out, as the Bulldogs are 61-for-67 in stolen bases as a team. Noah Zietz is a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen bases and also is batting .451 with 35 runs scored and three triples. Jacob Ruden is 11-for-11 in stolen bases with a .333 batting average.

Meanwhile, Jarrett Vendsel is 10-for-11 in steal attempts in addition to batting .426 with team-leading 21 RBIs.

John Koronka is the team’s leading hitter with a .490 batting average with 20 RBIs and 11 doubles, while Arron Grandy is hitting .463 with 17 RBIs, a home run, a triple and eight doubles.

On the mound, Burlington will go as far as their “big three” will take them.

Vendsel has a team-leading four wins (4-0 record), racking up 36 strikeouts in 20 innings of work while posing a 2.10 ERA. Zietz sports a 2-0 record with 21 strikeouts in 20 innings, while Koronka is 2-1 with 37 strikeouts in 20 innings.

“If those three don’t throw well, it usually doesn’t end well for us,” Arbaut said. “Every time they give us a good outing on the mound, we pull it out. I think that goes hand-in-hand for us this summer.”

Arbaut, a former Minot State baseball player, is in his third season coaching the Burlington legion team. Last spring he served as an assistant coach for the MSU baseball team.

“The first two years at Burlington were kind of weird for me getting used to the managerial side and not getting emotional like a player anymore,” Arbaut said. “I’ve learned a lot of things being able to coach at Minot State to pass along to these kids and coaching at both places has been a good experience.”

But for now, Arbaut and the Bulldogs are focused on finishing the season strong and preparing for the Region tournament on July 18 in Lansford.

“Our regional starts in a week and a half, and right now I’d love to finish the season in the first seed,” He said. “We have a tough matchup with Stanley Wednesday first, they only have three losses. They’ve been playing well and that will be a tough test for us before regionals start.”

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.