RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The Ramstein Royals sent the Patch Panthers to a heart-breaking defeat Saturday in the latest act of a rivalry that could arguably be called the best in all of DODDS-Europe sports.
Ramstein topped Patch – its competition in every Division I final since baseball became a sports in 2009 - 2-1 in an electrifying finale that was so perfect, it could have been scripted in Hollywood.
Captain Matt Sharpy got to live the dream of every kid who ever strapped on a baseball glove: bases loaded, bottom of the final inning, two outs and the championship on the line.
Sharpy stepped up to the plate, took a couple of practice swings and calmly cranked a two-run double to left field that won the game for the Royals.
“Best feeling in the world right there,” he said. ““It was awesome, we practice it every day. Coach is like ‘Go out there and win the game,’ and it was like that. We were prepared.”
The Panthers had taken a 1-0 lead off of a Thomas Schweighardt sacrifice RBI, and defended that meager lead with excellent glove work, especially on the part of center fielder Dylan Wagner. They looked to be heading to an upset heading into the bottom of the final inning. The Panthers got two quick outs.
Ramstein put two men on base, then Antonio Ortiz was hit by Panther relief pitcher Garrett Becker. Parker Boyle took the mound in the hope of disrupting the rhythm of the Royal batters.
Sharpy didn’t look disrupted and for his heroics, was named the Division I MVP.
But that honor could just have easily gone to any number of players. Pitcher Jonathan Oswald had six strikeouts on the day, including one with the bases loaded to get out of a jam and keep the score close.
Santee Jackson and Kieffer Allen both put in a solid days work on defense.
Jackson said that team effort is what pushed the Royals over the top.
“It was a hard-fought win,” he added. “We went down by one run, but none of our players got down. None of us. We knew we were coming back. There was no doubt. We knew.”
Like most rivalries, there is a mixture of good-natured animosity and a healthy dose of respect that keeps the competitive fires burning.
Patch head coach Drake Marbury said the Panthers will be back next year to take the title back.
“They kept their composure the whole game and supported each other,” he added. “I’m very proud of them – a fine group of young men.”