Guzzlers claim Pacificwide softball three-peat
May 31, 2006
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — All tournament long, third baseman Tony Iafelice struggled mightily with his defensive play. In Monday’s final, he took a different tack: make noise with the bat.
A clutch three-run, no-out, third-inning home run by the man his teammates call “Ice” gave the International Guzzlers the lead for good, and they hung on to edge Heat 3N2 18-15 in six innings in the second of two championship games.
Heat rallied past the Guzzlers 24-19 in the first game. Both games ended after six innings due to the tournament time limit of 75 minutes for playoff games.
“I figured if I can’t do it with the glove, you have to do it with the stick,” Iafelice said after his homer, part of the Guzzlers’ eight-run, 11-batter third inning that put them in front 14-8.
“It was huge,” Guzzlers assistant coach Bob Hochmuth said. “That gave us our confidence back. They [Heat] are a great ballclub. They have great hitters. They made us work. If you don’t have the confidence, you shouldn’t be on the field, and he gave that confidence to us.”
“That was very big, a huge morale booster for them,” Heat coach Ken Ring said. “He was struggling, on offense and defense. That swung the momentum their way, and they carried it through to victory.”
With that victory, the Guzzlers, whose roster features eight past and present All-Army players, snapped a tie with Yellow Box of Okinawa, now American Legion, for second-most titles in Pacific interservice Grand Slam tournaments. The Guzzlers own four, all of them in the Pacificwide. Now-defunct Pacific Force of Okinawa holds the record, with 39.
It appeared in the fifth inning of the first final game that things would go the way of the Heat, composed in part by three All-Army players, Tim Berry, Andre Elder and Dexter Avery, plus several Taiwanese imports.
Heat sent 17 batters to the plate and went ahead for keeps on Mark Chin’s two-run single, part of a 13-run uprising that gave Heat a 21-11 lead. Mike Sharp’s two-run homer in the fifth helped Guzzlers cut the gap to 21-17, but they never got closer.
Sharp, a left-handed slugger, went 4-for-4 with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs in that game — which prompted Ring in the second game to move an extra infielder to the right side of the diamond whenever Sharp was at bat.
Sharp smacked a two-run blast in the second game, but was walked four other times — twice intentionally, once with the bases loaded in the fateful third inning.
“That didn’t bother me,” Sharp said. “We have a good lineup. I knew they would pull through behind me.”
Air Force Plus One tops among American womenFor the second time in six years, two Korean teams played in the women’s championship game, with Kyongbuk, the Korean national team, blanking Busan Red Fox 10-0. It was the sixth straight year that Red Fox has reached the final, but they won the title only once, in 2001.
Finishing highest among the American teams in the playoffs was Air Force Plus One, which took third.
“On championship day, we came to play four games, we played four tough teams and we fell short,” coach Danny Acosta said. “But there’s more to it than winning. The main thing is that they started to play good ball.”
Pacificwide Open Softball Tournament
At Yongsan Garrison, South Korea
Osan Air Base, South Korea, 14, 1st Signal Brigade 3
Heat 3N2 16, Camp Humphreys 0
American Legion 23, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, 11
Yongsan Garrison 11, Taegu 8; Taegu eliminated
Club Red 27, 1st Signal Brigade 10; 1st Signal Brigade eliminated
Yokota Air Base 24, Camp Humphreys 9; Camp Humphreys eliminated
Kadena Air Base 9, Los Guzzleros 8; Los Guzzleros eliminated
International Guzzlers 22, Osan Air Base 15
Heat 3N2 15, American Legion 9
Yongsan Garrison 21, Club Red 11; Club Red eliminated
Kadena Air Base 15, Yokota Air Base 8; Yokota Air Base eliminated
American Legion 20, Yongsan Garrison 11; Yongsan Garrison eliminated
Kadena Air Base 8, Osan Air Base 7; Osan Air Base eliminated
International Guzzlers 21, Heat 3N2 20
American Legion 16, Kadena Air Base 2; Kadena Air Base eliminated
Heat 3N2 15, American Legion 5; American Legion eliminated
Heat 3N2 24, International Guzzlers 19
International Guzzlers 18, Heat 3N2 15; Heat 3N2 eliminated
Sang Ji University, South Korea, 18, Yard Busters, Okinawa, 8
Air Force Plus One 8, Yongsan Garrison 6
Kyongbuk National Team, South Korea, 15, Sang Ji University 0
Air Force Plus One 13, Busan Red Fox, South Korea, 12
Sang Ji University 14, Yongsan Garrison 4; Yongsan Garrison eliminated
Busan Red Fox 7, Yard Busters 5; Yard Busters eliminated
Kyongbuk 13, Air Force Plus One 12
Busan Red Fox 9, Sang Ji University 6; Sang Ji University eliminated
Busan Red Fox 10, Air Force Plus One 6; Air Force Plus One eliminated
Kyongbuk 10, Busan Red Fox 0