EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Eight-time All-Armed Forces slugger Dexter Avery belted a fourth-inning grand slam as Army outslugged two-time defending champion Air Force 24-23 on Day 2 of the 2006 All-Armed Forces men’s softball tournament Wednesday.

Army improved to 5-1, a game ahead of 4-2 Air Force. With the soldiers having already beaten the airmen twice in the three-day, triple round-robin tournament, Army needed only to win two of its last three games on Thursday to clinch its first championship since 2003.

Avery also homered twice and drove in five runs as Army sank Navy 20-14, and also rallied from a 19-1 second-inning deficit to edge the Marine Corps 32-31.

Air Force stayed a game behind with the help of Chadd Malin of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, who homered during a 16-run third inning of a 32-12 pounding of Navy. Air Force also seized a 22-2 lead over the Marine Corps and never looked back, beating the Leathernecks 23-10.

The Marines got their lone win of the day with the help of Denver Edick of Japan’s Iwakuni Air Station, who ripped a two-run in-park homer in the top of the seventh to give the Marines an 18-17 win over Navy.

On Day 1, Air Force fell to Army 14-12 thanks to two-run home runs by Deleanore Eggleston of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and James Cain of Tripler Army Medical Facility, Hawaii, in the third inning.

Army did itself in against Navy, however, with six errors and Alex Puskarich drove in seven runs as Navy beat the soldiers 23-16. Army bounced back to grab a 16-4 lead before holding off the Marine Corps 18-17.

The bat of Josh Wiggs of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., helped the airmen rebound to win their other two games.

Wiggs hit three of seven Air Force home runs to out-slug the Marines 17-13. Then Wiggs belted three homers again and knocked in nine runs, and Randy Wilhide of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Kristopher Auger of McChord, Wash., hit back-to-back shots to sink Navy 30-17.

2006 All-Armed Forces men’s softball tournament

At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

W L Pct. GB

Army 5 1 .833 —

Air Force 4 2 .667 1

Marine Corps 2 4 .333 3

Navy 1 5 .167 4

Tuesday’s scores

Marine Corps 10, Navy 9

Army 14, Air Force 12

Air Force 17, Marine Corps 13

Navy 23, Army 16

Air Force 30, Navy 17

Army 18, Marine Corps 17

Wednesday’s scores

Army 20, Navy 14

Air Force 23, Marine Corps 10

Air Force 32, Navy 12

Army 32, Marine Corps 31

Army 24, Air Force 23

Marine Corps 18, Navy 17

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