The All-Marine Corps team came alive Thursday, winning its three games to turn the All-Armed Forces men’s softball tournament into a three-way race for the title, tying defending champion Air Force for the top spot (4-2), with All-Army (3-3) close behind at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

“It’s a funny tournament,” said five-time All-Army player Elmer Mason of Fort Knox, Ky., whose team lost to the Marines 8-6 in Thursday’s last game.

Dexter Avery of Camp Carroll, South Korea, batted 2-for-4 in Army’s 8-6 loss to the Marines.

Army came up empty in bases-loaded, one-out situations in the second and fourth innings.

“We squandered two opportunities,” five-time All-Army player Elmer Mason of Fort Knox, Ky. said, adding that especially in a tournament such as this one, playing “small ball” is vital to a team’s chances: The rules state players must use bats distributed by organizers, which they’re not used to swinging, and softer balls that don’t travel far.

“You have to capitalize when the opportunity presents itself,” Mason said.

“It isn’t the big boom. It’s the one or two runs and making it harder for the other team to score that one or two runs. Make the routine plays. Hit behind the runner. Hit the sacrifice fly.”

As play entered its final day Friday, the only team not in position to win the title was All-Navy, which won its opener Wednesday but lost five straight after that.

Air Force split its first two games with the Marines, winning 25-3 on Wednesday and losing 6-5 on Thursday, holding a tiebreaker edge over the Marines by having outscored them 30-9.

“But if we win out and Air Force takes a loss, then we win it because we beat the Marines twice,” Mason said of the variables entering the final day. “It’s interesting.”

All-Armed Forces Men’s Softball Tournament

All-Armed Forces Men’s Softball Tournament

At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Day 2

W L Pct. GB

Air Force 4 2 .667 —

Marine Corps 4 2 .667 —

Army 3 3 .500 1

Navy 1 5 .167 3

Wednesday’s games

Navy 7, Air Force 6

Army 14, Marine Corps 1

Air Force 14, Army 7

Marine Corps 5, Navy 3

Air Force 25, Marine Corps 3

Army 10, Navy 6

Thursday’s games

Marine Corps 8, Army 6

Air Force 11, Navy 3

Air Force 14, Army 8

Marine Corps 6, Navy 3

Marine Corps 6, Air Force 5

Army 12, Navy 2

Friday’s games

Army vs. Marine Corps

Air Force vs. Navy

Air Force vs. Marine Corps

Navy vs. Army

Marine Corps vs. Navy

Air Force vs. Army

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