Shortstop Matt Lange of Marine Corps Base Camp Butler guns a throw to first base against 1st Marine Aircraft Wing during Wednesday's first championship game. Base beat Wing twice 22-13 and 18-10 to capture the title.

Shortstop Matt Lange of Marine Corps Base Camp Butler guns a throw to first base against 1st Marine Aircraft Wing during Wednesday's first championship game. Base beat Wing twice 22-13 and 18-10 to capture the title. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Just call Marine Corps Base Camp Butler the “Two-Out Kids.”

En route to its second championship in four years in the Marine Forces Pacific Regional Softball Tournament, Base seemed to do its finest work with one out remaining in three crucial innings Wednesday.

First, Base unseated two-time defending champion 3rd Force Service Support Group 11-7 in the loser’s bracket final, thanks to a five-run fifth inning fueled by a two-out throwing error.

In a two-game final, Base netted 16 runs in the third inning of the first game, a 22-13 triumph. Then it scored five of its seven third-inning runs with two out in an 18-10 victory over 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years of softball,” said Doc Arbini, Base pitcher/coach. “That’s the best string of hitting I’ve seen.”

Base, which also won the tournament in 2002, had entered the double-elimination playoff as the fourth and last seed. It was outscored 31-19 in round-robin play and opened the playoffs Tuesday by losing to 3rd Force 11-4. “Our bats were asleep,” Arbini said.

Then Base found its hitting stroke, pouring on the runs in a 27-14 victory over 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force to close Tuesday’s play. “After that, we were rolling,” Arbini said.

Still, Base trailed 3rd Force 7-2 with two out in the fifth Wednesday before a crucial throwing error by pitcher John Turner opened the floodgates. Base scored nine unanswered runs, five in the fifth to tie it and four in the sixth to go ahead for good.

That pitted Base against Wing, which entered the championship for the second straight year as the winner’s bracket representative, unbeaten to that point in the playoffs. Wing had beaten Base 14-2 in six innings in round-robin play.

The two teams know each other perhaps too well: Six of Wing’s players and four from Base are on Club Red, which plays on Okinawa’s open tournament circuit.

“We know what they can do,” Arbini said of Wing. “At any time, they can explode for 15 runs.”

Wing led the first title game 5-3 before Base erupted. Aided by two Wing fielding errors, it sent 21 batters to the plate and scored 16 times in a 21-minute third inning.

Red Shaffer and Dick Cline each had two-run singles and Matt Lange a two-run double in the uprising.

“Once a couple of us goes, everybody else follows,” said Base’s Chaz Amman.

From that point, Wing never recovered and Base never trailed. The knockout blow came in the third inning of the clinching game, when Amman, Arbini, Odell Kimbrough and tournament MVP Eli Roque strung together RBI singles as Base scored five of its seven runs in the inning, again with two out.

Roque, only 5 feet 3, sealed his MVP candidacy by batting 7-for-11 with three RBIs in the two championship games.

“Size doesn’t matter,” Arbini said. “He’s a giant for us.”

For Wing, Wednesday was another giant disappointment among several in the past five tournaments. In 2001, 2004 and this year, Wing was unbeaten through the early part of the playoffs only to get “double-dipped” in the championship round.

Wing’s Gray headlines All-Marine camp selections

Wing didn’t come away from the tournament empty-handed. Two of its players were selected to attend the All-Marine tryout camp Aug. 14-Sept. 4 at Cherry Point Air Station, N.C.

Tyrone Gray, a former three-time All-Marine, was chosen for the camp along with teammate Keith Gilchrist, making his first trip.

They’re joined by Amman, Turner and Division’s Robert Putney. They’ll compete for berths on the 15-player All-Marine team, scheduled to play in the All-Armed Forces tournament Sept. 5-10 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Marines last won the title in 1999.

Marine Corps Community Services Semper Fit Athletics officials said they were looking into possibly also sending Roque.

Marine Forces Pacific Regional Softball Tournament

At Field 1, Foster Field Complex, Camp Foster, Okinawa

Double-elimination playoffs

Tuesday’s games

Game 1—3rd Force Service Support Group 11, Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler 4

Game 2—1st Marine Aircraft Wing 25, 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force 2, 5 inn., 12-run mercy rule

Game 3—Wing 14, 3rd Force 13, 6 inn., time limit

Game 4—Base 27, Division 14, 6 inn., time limit; Division eliminated

Wednesday’s games

Game 5—Base 11, 3rd Force 7; 3rd Force eliminated

Game 6—Base 22, Wing 13

Game 7—Base 18, Wing 10; Wing eliminated


Most Valuable Player—Eli Roque, Base.

All-Marine tryout camp selectees—Keith Gilchrist, Tyrone Gray, Wing; Robert Putney, Division; John Turner, 3rd Force; Chaz Amman, Base.

All-Tournament team—Chaz Amman, Eli Roque, Base; Keith Gilchrist, Todd Harding, Carlos Cardoza, Tyrone Gray, Wing; John Turner, Eduardo Santiesteban, Thomas Lewis, 3rd Force; Robert Putney, Carl Holden, Division.

All-Tournament coach—Doc Arbini, Base.

Wednesday’s summaries

Base 11, 3rd Force 7

3rd Force..........0 1 0 1 5 0 0- 7

Base..........0 2 0 0 5 4 x-11

3rd Force—Mike Smit 2-for-4, 2 RBIs. Base—Doc Arbini, 2-for-3, double, walk, 4 RBIs; John Brown 2-for-2, 2 RBIs.

Base 22, Wing 13

Wing..........3 2 0 5 2 0 1-13

Base..........2 1 16 2 1 0 x-22

Wing—Ryan Kilawee 3-for-4, walk, 3 RBIs; Todd Harding 2-for-3, walk, 3 RBIs. Base—Eli Roque 4-for-6, 2 RBIs; Matt Lange 3-for-5, double, 3 RBIs; Red Shaffer 3-for-5, 3 RBIs; Richard Cline 3-for-4, 4 RBIs.

Base 18, Wing 10

Wing..........0 0 3 4 0 3 0-10

Base..........3 3 0 7 5 0 x-18

Wing—Tyrone Gray 3-for-5, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs; Keith Gilchrist 2-for-4, 3 RBIs. Base—Chaz Amman 2-for-5, 3 RBIs; Ray Mitchell 3-for-4, 2 RBIs; Mel Kirksey 2-for-4, 3 RBIs; Odell Kimbrough 2 RBIs.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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