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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea – Just when it appeared American Legion was all but dead in the third inning, Monday’s Game 2 of the 23rd Pacificwide Open Interservice Softball Tournament men’s open final morphed into the diamond equivalent of a heavyweight prize fight.

Phillip White homered five times and drove in 10 runs as Scrapalators raced to an 18-3 third-inning lead, then the teams traded big innings the rest of the way, with Scraps holding on in the end to win 44-41 at Yongsan’s Lombardo Field Fourplex to sweep the best-of-three final series 2-0.

“A dogfight for the classic right there,” said All-Army veteran Ralph Hodgdon after Scraps won their third straight title in the game, again at Legion’s expense, in a battle of teams comprised mainly of former All-Service players, many who flew in from the States for the event.

Now in their fourth year of existence, Scrapalators is 3-for-3 in Pacificwide tournament finals. Legion, which also has won the event three times, appeared in its eighth final here and was going for its 15th title in Pacific Grand Slam tournaments, trailing only defunct Pacific Force with 39.

The women’s final also featured a three-peat, as Kyongnam, Korea’s national fastpitch team, rallied past Xtreme of Okinawa 25-15 in six innings. Kyongnam relegated Xtreme to the knockout bracket of the double-elimination tournament and Xtreme needed to beat Kyongnam twice to win the title.

Kyongnam brought its B side to play in the tournament; the ballclub’s premier lineup was playing a fastpitch tournament down peninsula.

In the tournament’s intramural division, 2nd Battalion (Assault), 2nd Aviation Regiment of Korea’s Area I won the title but needed a two-game final to do it. Suwon Air Base sent 2/2 ASLT to the knockout bracket with a 15-11 win before 2/2 ASLT prevailed 21-9 in the second “if necessary” final game.

Scrapalators quite handily captured the first of the two men’s open final games, scoring nine unanswered runs to lead 11-5 entering the fourth inning. Legion rallied for five runs in the fifth to cut it to 13-11, but Scraps closed the deal with eight runs in the bottom of the frame.

Gabe Beltran’s no-out, bases-loaded RBI single drove home the run that ended the game via the 10-run mercy rule.

Hodgdon was 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, Lynell McLeod had two RBI triples and Trenton Simms went 3-for-4 with a triple, a homer and six RBIs for Scraps. Will Twaddell, Gary Chaney and Travis Wollison combined to go 7-for-10 with three homers for Legion.

The second game appeared to feature the same trappings as Scraps seized their 15-run lead. But the script changed after that as Legion scored 24 unanswered runs and came within a base hit of run-ruling Scraps in the fifth to send the series to a third game.

But Scraps answered back with 26 runs in the sixth inning alone. That proved to be just enough, as Legion scored eight in the sixth and six more in the seventh, and had the bases loaded with two outs when Wollison grounded out to the pitcher, Hodgdon.

“Too close for comfort,” Scraps’ Phillip White said.

“They are a really good team,” Beltran said of Legion. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight.”

Hodgdon was 6-for-7 with three homers and four RBIs, Kevin Watkins went 5-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs, Reggie Myers batted 5-for-7 with two homers and Leonard Myers was 6-for-7 with three homers and seven RBIs.

Chaney went 5-for-6 with a double and a triple, Tim Riley was 5-for-6 with two doubles and a triple and Isaac Castillo batted 4-for-5 with three homers and five RBIs for Legion.

“I knew we always had a chance,” coach John O’Brien said of Legion’s comeback. “We came up short. Scrapalators is a good team. They’re deserving champions.”

The women’s final also featured lead trading. Xtreme went up 4-3, Kyongnam rallied to lead 9-4, then Xtreme roared ahead 15-13 in the sixth inning. But Kyongnam turned the tide for good by scoring nine fifth-inning runs.

Cara Samuels was 3-for-4 with two doubles, Kara Majors was 2-for-2 with two walks and Taelor Dietz batted 3-for-3 with two doubles. Kyongnam brought its B side to play in the tournament; the ballclub’s premier lineup was playing a fastpitch tournament down peninsula.

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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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