Teams battle through rain on Japan diamonds
By JAMES KIMBER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 18, 2014
CAMP ZAMA, Japan – What’s a good DODDS Japan baseball tournament without some rain?
For the third straight year, the tournament has been affected by the wet stuff. Three games were canceled Friday due to overnight and morning rain; they will not be rescheduled, officials said.
The tourney was completed despite rain a year ago, with Nile C. Kinnick winning the round robin-style event; the last day of the 2012 tournament was abandoned due to rain and wet grounds.
“What can you do? It’s Japan, and in Japan it rains,” Red Devils coach Charles Stark said. “The coaches have been great about it. Not much you can do. It’s just unfortunate.”
Stark spoke after his Red Devils played Yokota in a game that ended in a 2-2 six-inning draw due to tournament time-limit rules.
Kinnick and Yokota right-handers Daniel Ross and Leo Austin, who combined to allow three hits and strike out 20, would have reached their seven-inning limit had they gone another inning, meaning they could not pitch Saturday.
The game was reminiscent of the Kinnick-Yokota matchup played in the same time slot on the tournament’s second day last year. In that one, Ross outpitched Kei DePontbriand 5-1, a win that effectively clinched the tournament for the Red Devils.
“It’s a great rivalry,” Stark said. “We beat them, they beat us. They have a great program. We’re just trying to build a program.”
Because of the wet weather, canceled games pitting Yokota vs. Robert D. Edgren, Zama American vs. Matthew C. Perry and E.J. King vs. Kinnick will not be rescheduled, tournament director Scott Bolin said.
The tie worked to the benefit of host Zama, which vaulted atop the tournament heap at 2-0 after two days’ play, beating E.J. King 11-1 in four innings in Friday’s last game. Yokota and Kinnick follow closely behind at 1-0-1; they each play Zama on Saturday.
While rain also fell on the DODDS Japan softball tournament at Yokota, that event went on uninterrupted through a light drizzle all day. Despite the rain, there were no puddles or injuries, event organizer and chief umpire Kelly Cook said.
Zama and Kinnick each garnered top pool seeds and first-round byes into the tournament’s single-elimination playoff, but E.J. King downed Zama 11-4 in Friday’s semifinal at Yokota’s Headley Field, reaching Saturday’s championship against two-time defending champion Kinnick.
Another brand of Cobra struck on the pitch at Korea’s Camp Carroll. E.J. King’s boys, behind Thomas McGrath’s four goals, won their second straight after opening with five losses. The Cobras blanked Daegu 5-0.
“We have momentum now,” Cobras coach Mark Constantine said. “They’re coming together.”
Staff writer Dave Ornauer contributed to this report.