Navy edges Marines in Baseball Challenge at San Diego

The Navy baseball team holds up the Cmdr. Lawrence S. Jackman Trophy after toppling the Marine Corps 5-3 in the Navy vs. Marine Corps Baseball Challenge at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.



SAN DIEGO — Johnathan Kuelz of Point Loma, Calif., threw seven innings of three-hit ball and struck out eight as Navy defeated the Marines Corps 5-3 on Sunday in the 14th annual Baseball Challenge in front of 600 spectators at Qualcomm Stadium.

Navy leads 8-6 in the series that began in 1989 as a showcase for sailors and Leathernecks in the area.

The Padres and Qualcomm Stadium have hosted the event since 1995. This year’s game followed San Diego’s 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“This is really overwhelming being able to play here at Qualcomm,” said Marines coach William Miller of nearby Camp Pendleton.

Kuelz, a submarine sonar technician with Submarine Group 9 at Point Loma, helped Navy retained the Cmdr. Lawrence S. Jackman Trophy. It’s named for a mid-20th century Naval officer who survived the Pearl Harbor attack and served for more than 25 years.

“This was a really great day. We’ve been looking forward to this all spring and summer,” said Kuelz, a hard-throwing, 23-year- old right-hander from Minnetoka, Minn.

“It’s a great honor to be able to come out here and represent the Navy. This is our game, our country’s pastime and one of the reasons we fight for the freedoms we have in America, to be able to play a game like this.”

Kuelz was voted the Most Valuable Player and received a trophy named for the late Marine Lt. Col. Daniel W. Kidd, an officer killed in the line of duty while assigned to Pendleton in 1996.

Navy scored three runs in the first inning on Quincy Scott’s RBI triple, Ray Judy’s run-scoring single and a Marine throwing error. The Marines put a run on the board in the second on David Sandoval’s RBI single.

Navy added two runs in the seventh. Judy knocked in Kevin Garcia with a single, then scored on Matt Simeone’s double to deep left. The Marines answered with two in the ninth, on Anthony Marraccino’s sacrifice fly and Justin Brown’s fielder’s choice.

Navy (32-11) heads into the semi-pro San Diego American Baseball League playoffs. Navy also took two of three from the Marines in the Western Baseball Association league.

Navy baseball, in its sixth season here, is the brainchild of Lt. Cmdr. Terry Allvord of Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, currently deployed to Okinawa.

Allvord was asked to put a Navy team together in 1990 while attending flight school at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla. He started the Southwestern Baseball League in Pensacola, and it quickly grew to more than 10 teams consisting of civilians and military from all services.

“This isn’t intramural or a command softball team,” Allvord said. “Navy baseball is the job of a sailor or Marine for about three months. We wanted to offer real baseball on par with the All-Navy programs.”

Scott Thornbloom, a Navy chief petty officer and the operations and training chief at San Diego’s public affairs center, is a former sports writer for Stars and Stripes. E-mail him at: jocdocmojo@hotmail.com

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