Pacificwide Open Softball Tournament: Baserunning boo-boos, silent bats conspire to doom Team USA
May 31, 2007
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Two baserunning mistakes and thebats'untimely disappearance conspired to doom Team USA in Monday's two-game women's championship of the 17th Pacificwide Open Softball Tournament.
Kazue "Jo-Jo" Dancer and pinch-runner Gracey Martinez each got thrown out at home plate as Team USA fell to Sang Ji University, a Korean team,4-3 in nine innings in the second and deciding final game. Team USA managed just five hits in losing the first game 8-0.
"That one's the coach's fault," said coach Danny Acosta of the baserunning boo-boos. "I take the blame. I shouldn't have sent them."
On the men's side, the powerhouse International Guzzlers of South Korea left no doubt in winning its fourth straight title. Theybanged seven home runs, two each by Lynell McLeod, Elmer Mason and Jon Nicholson, in routing Los Guzzleros 25-6 in three innings. Both teams belong to Yongsan-basedGuzzlers International Softball Club, a non-profit organization.
Women's championshipA master sergeant stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Acostacobbled together the team, comprised mostly of former or current All-Service players from as far away as Lajes Field in the Azores.
Aside from the failed baserunning gambles, Team USA managed just eight hits in the first 11 innings of the two games — out of character, consideringTeam USA outscored its first five opponents 75-2 and had beaten Sang Ji 9-6 and 12-4 in their two previous meetings.
"We waited too long to hit," Acosta said. "You can't wait until the fifth inning. I was really proud of the way we played" entering the championship. "It's disappointing."
In the second game, Team USA had managed just three hits and trailed 1-0, on a third-inning Sang Ji sacrifice fly, enteringthe fifth inning. Dancer, of Lajes Field,reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on Kischa McCloud's single. Becca Tongen grounded into a fielder's choice, but when Acosta gambled and sent Dancer home, she was thrown out sliding.
Team USA tied itin the seventhon an RBI single by Rachel Smith of Yongsan Garrison, but stranded two runners in scoring position. That happened in the eighth, when Tongen, of McChord Air Force Base, Wash., and Shannon Thomas of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, each singled.
Martinez, of Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, pinch-ran for Tongen, then Roxanne Finks of Area IV, Daegu, South Korea, singled up the middle. Martinez was sent home by Acosta, but a perfect relay throw from the outfield nailed her.
"They played solid defense," Martinez said. "Coach sent me. I went."
The next batter, Karrie Warren, an Air National Guardsman at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flew out to end the inning. "I should have kept Gracey at third," Acosta said. "With one out, Warren would have hit a sacrifice fly and we would have won it."
Sang Ji broke it open with three runs in the ninth, but Team USA refused to quit. Inspired by the men's champion Guzzlers, rhythmically clanging team coins against the backstop poles, Holly Vanwert of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, singled in a run and Dancer drove in another on a fielder's choice.
But McCloud, of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, flew out to right fieldto end it with runners at first and third.
Men's championshipInternational Guzzlers 25, Los Guzzleros 6 (3)
It was the first time that the brother teams had ever played each other. Los Guzzleros was founded by Guzzlers club president Tom Costello a few years ago when he had no berths left on the parent team. The Guzzlers began as a company-level ballclub in the early 1990s, and after Costello took the team's reins in 2001, it has won this tournament five times.
"Over the years, we talked" about the teams facing each other in such a setting, "but we didn't think it was possible until today," Costello said.
It was no contest from the beginning, when McLeod, a civilian at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., hit the first of his two in-park homers to lead off the game. He went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Elmer Mason, of Fort Knox, Ky., went 4-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs. Jon Nicholson, a California Army reservist, was 3-for-3 with two two-run second-inning homers and five RBIs. Ten-time All-Army player and former All-Army coach Andy Watts went 4-for-4 with a double, a triple and four RBIs. The Guzzlers scored nine first-inning runs and added 12 in the second.
Alex Willer and Doug Gist each managed two hits and an RBI for Los Guzzleros.
All told, the parent Guzzlers roster included six former or current All-Army players, which Costello said lent an air of chemistry to the ballclub.
"Everybody was comfortable and confident with them here," Costello said. "Even when we weren't playing well, there was no doubt. We felt we couldn't lose."
Costello pooh-poohed the notion that it wasn't fair for the Guzzlers to "stack" their team, since it's an open tournament and Okinawa-based teams such as Pacific Force, which won this tournament seven times, did the same thing in the 1990s.
"If it wasn't for the open teams, we wouldn't have much here," said Costello, who assisted Yongsan's post team under coach Warren Holland until leaving to head the Guzzlers in 2001. "I know how it feels to be on the other end."
At least one team vanquished by the Guzzlers, American Legion of Okinawa, feels that if they can't beat them, they'll have to follow suit.
"We have to recruit," said coach John O'Brien, whose Legion team won the tournament in 2003 as Yellow Box. "They (Guzzlers) were just better than us."
2007 Pacificwide Open scoreboardAt Lombardo Field FourPlex, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South KoreaDay4 resultsDouble-elimination playoffs
Sunday's gamesGame 1-International Guzzlers, South Korea, 20, Wonju/Camp Long, South Korea, 0Game 2-Camp Casey, South Korea, 12, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, 2Game 3-Los Guzzleros, South Korea, 20, 2/2 Aviation, South Korea, 8Game 4-Heat 3N2, South Korea, 20, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, 10Game 5-Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 20, 18th Medical Command, South Korea, 6Game 6-Club Red, Okinawa, 10, Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan, 2Game 7-American Legion, Okinawa, 21, Ghost Riders, Japan, 6Game 8-Osan Air Base, South Korea, 18, Area IV, South Korea, 6Game 9-Yongsan Garrison 17, Wonju/Camp Long 3; Wonju/Camp Long eliminatedGame 10-2/2 Aviation 18, Kunsan Air Base, 16; Kunsan Air Base eliminatedGame 11-Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station 12, 18th Medical Command 7; 18th Medical Command eliminatedGame 12-Area IV 19, Ghost Riders 12; Ghost Riders eliminatedGame 13-International Guzzlers 26, Camp Casey 15Game 14-Heat 3N2 22, Los Guzzleros 9Game 15-Club Red 15, Camp Humphreys 14Game 16-American Legion 14, Osan Air Base 4Game 17-Camp Casey 10, Area IV 2; Area IV eliminatedGame 18-Los Guzzleros 18, Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station 17; Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station eliminatedGame 19-Camp Humphreys 11, 2/2 Aviation 1; 2/2 Aviation eliminatedGame 20-Osan Air Base 18, Yongsan Garrison 3; Yongsan Garrison eliminatedGame 21-International Guzzlers 19, Heat 3N2 11Game 22-American Legion 28, Club Red 20Game 23-Osan Air Base 18, Camp Humphreys 6; Camp Humphreys eliminatedGame 24-Los Guzzleros18, Camp Casey 17; Camp Casey eliminated
Monday's games Game 25-Osan Air Base21, Heat 3N2 20; Heat 3N2 eliminatedGame 26-Los Guzzleros 18, Club Red 17; Club Red eliminatedGame 27-International Guzzlers 23, American Legion 19Game 28-Los Guzzleros 24, Heat 3N2 10; Heat 3N2 eliminatedGame 29-Los Guzzleros 27, American Legion 15; American Legion eliminatedGame 30-International Guzzlers 25, Los Guzzleros 6, 3 inn.; Los Guzzleros eliminated
Sunday's games Game 1-Team USA 19, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, 6Game 2-Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, 9, Osan Air Base, South Korea, 6Game 3-Red Fox (Korean club), South Korea, 16, Area IV, South Korea, 2Game 4-Sang Ji University, South Korea, 12, Yard Busters, Okinawa, 0Game 5-Osan Air Base 12, Yokosuka Naval Base 11; Yokosuka Naval Base eliminatedGame 6-Area IV 20, Yard Busters 19; Yard Busters eliminatedGame 7-Team USA 15, Yongsan Garrison 5Game 8-Sang Ji University 15, Red Fox 5Game 9-Yongsan Garrison 15, Area IV 4; Area IV eliminatedGame 10-Red Fox 23, Osan Air Base 8; Osan Air Base eliminatedGame 11-Team USA 12, Sang Ji University 4Game 12-Red Fox 22, Yongsan Garrison 5; Yongsan Garrison eliminated
Monday's gamesGame 13-Sang Ji University 4, Red Fox 1; Red Fox eliminatedGame 14-Sang Ji University 8, Team USA 0Game 15-Sang Ji University 4, Team USA 3, 9 inn.; Team USA eliminated