Club Red finally gets Firecracker title
Club Red third baseman Chris Hughes goes after an American Legion ground ball during Monday's men's championship game in the Pacific Firecracker Softball Tournament at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Club Red rallied from an 8-0 deficit to oust defending champion Legion 17-8, Club Red's first victory over Legion in the finals of a Pacificwide tournament.
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Larry Borum promised his players that he’d stay on as coach instead of stepping down, as he’d planned, if his Club Red team could at last beat American Legion in a Pacificwide softball tournament. On Monday, his players made him keep his word.
Justin Houston belted a game-changing three-run home run in the fourth inning, part of a string of 17 unanswered runs, as Club Red dethroned Pacific Firecracker tournament champion American Legion 17-8.
Andie Mitchell-Bridgeman ripped a two-out, in-park grand slam in the sixth inning as Lady Sidelines dethroned Yard Busters 13-7 for the women’s title.
“Can’t now. No,” Borum said of the talk of his leaving the helm of a team he’d formed nine years ago. “That was my promise to them. If they’d win, I’d stay. And I will.”
Club Red has beaten its at-times-heated rival Legion in weekend on-island tournaments, but had never in a Pacificwide tournament. “Words can’t describe it,” Borum said. “We’ve been fighting hard for nine years. The guys have been phenomenal. They never game up.”
The 47-year-old retired Marine gunnery sergeant from Lebanon, Ohio, has been on Okinawa since 2003 and has won three Marine Far East Regional Tournament titles. “It’s fun to have those, but this (Firecracker) tops them all,” he said.
Longtime Club Red outfielder Shawn Curtis agreed. “This is where it counts,” he said. “There was more on the line than just the win. He was going to walk.”
Club Red spotted Legion an 8-0 fourth-inning lead, fueled by two Dan Dominguez singles that drove in three runs. Five of Legion’s runs came with two outs.
Frank Poo and Henry Kelcinski began Club Red’s eight-run fourth with run-scoring singles, then Houston knotted it 8-8 with his three-run shot. “He’s been doing that all tournament,” Borum said of Houston, who had three walk-off blasts during the five-day tournament.
Trent McKibbin put Club Red ahead to stay 10-8 with a two-run homer in the fifth. R.J. Robertson provided insurance with an RBI triple in the fifth and a two-run in-park homer in the sixth.
On the women’s side, Lady Sidelines had lost handily to Yard Busters in two pool-play games by four runs each, but MVP Kara Ann Majors and Sidelines turned things around in the double-elimination round, winning twice by an average of eight runs, including the final.
“It was a good all-around team effort,” assistant coach Drew Majors said, citing Mitchell-Bridgeman’s and Tamara Vazquez’s hitting, Courtney Berry’s pitching and good team defense.
Yard Busters surged in front 3-0 in the top of the first inning, but Sidelines responded with five of its own in the bottom of the frame. Yard Busters crept to within 8-7 in the fifth, but Sidelines closed with five unanswered runs, including Mitchell-Bridgeman’s grand slam.