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Kubasaki shortstop/closer P.J. Varner connects against Kadena pitcher Ryan Yerger during Thursday’s opening game of the 2009 Spring Fling, a three-day high school baseball tournament at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Varner got the save, striking out two in the seventh inning, and the Dragons beat the Panthers 6-1.

Kubasaki shortstop/closer P.J. Varner connects against Kadena pitcher Ryan Yerger during Thursday’s opening game of the 2009 Spring Fling, a three-day high school baseball tournament at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Varner got the save, striking out two in the seventh inning, and the Dragons beat the Panthers 6-1. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

The hidden-ball trick, something of a lost art in baseball, played a huge part in Kubasaki’s victory over Kadena on Thursday.

Dragons senior first baseman Wataru Smiley tagged out Panthers baserunner Norman Correa for the second out of the fifth inning.

The play proved crucial in stamping out a potential rally and helped Kubasaki down Kadena 6-1 in the opener of the 2009 Spring Fling, a three-day tournament at Camp Foster, Okinawa.

"It was definitely a nice out," coach Randy Toor said, adding that Smiley has worked on the trick in practice. "It definitely killed the rally and gave us the momentum back."

At the time, Kubasaki led 3-1. With Blaine Ramarui on first base, Correa grounded to pitcher Kaleb Robinson, who fired to shortstop P.J. Varner just wide of second; Ramarui was ruled safe. Varner relayed to first too late to nip Correa.

As Kubasaki argued the safe call, Smiley saw Correa stray off first. "Instinct," Smiley said afterward. "I saw him off, so I tagged him."

Kadena’s next batter, Tomas Sanchez, grounded out to first to end the inning.

"It was a great time for him to pull it out," Toor said.

Kubasaki did put it out of reach with three runs in the sixth. Robinson pitched six innings for the victory and Varner fanned two in the seventh for the save. Kadena’s Ryan Yerger was tagged with the loss. Kubasaki leads the season series 2-1.

"Physical errors are going to come. But we made a lot of mental errors," Kadena coach Ken Gamon said. "The guys need to turn up the intensity. They’re playing for something in this tournament."

Zama girls strikers finally tumble after going 12-0-1Zama American’s girls soccer team finally cooled off after compiling a white-hot 12-0-1 record. The Trojans gave up two first-half goals and saw their second-half rally fall just short in a 2-1 loss to Yokohama International at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

The Trojans came into the match with just one regular substitute. "But that’s no excuse," coach Rogers Pitts said. "They outplayed us in the first half. Hopefully, the girls will see what they need to work on and not take things for granted."

Elsewhere, Roxanne Clement and Laura Ingulsrud got first-half goals as defending Far East Girls Class AA Tournament champion American School In Japan (5-0) blanked Nile C. Kinnick 2-0 at Yokosuka Naval Base. The Red Devils fell to 6-2-2.

Leo Kobayashi and Shun Serisawa each scored twice as defending Far East Boys Class AA runner-up Christian Academy In Japan downed Kinnick 4-1 on Wednesday.

And on Guam, Megan Speck netted three goals to power Guam High to a season-opening 5-1 triumph over Academy of Our Lady of Guam at Eagles Field in Mangilao.

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