KUMI, South Korea —Taegu ACE’s baseball season ended Sunday on a down note, as the unbeaten and Taegu amateur Hammer League-leading Rainbows scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to edge the predominantly-GI ACE team 13-12 in a game called after six innings due to the league’s two-hour time limit.
The defeat capped a season of peaks and valleys for ACE, which opened by losing its first four games, then went on a five-game winning streak before dropping its last five.
It also may have dealt a death blow to ACE’s bid to make the Hammer League’s eight-team postseason field, coach Pedro Arocho said. The league won’t announce the playoff field until Wednesday, when all the final records and statistics are collected and finalized, Arocho said.
While ACE got solid production from its offense, pitching and fielding “kind of let us down,” Arocho said.
He started and went just two innings, giving up seven runs, five hits and four walks while striking out three. But a catcher’s throwing error trying to nail a base-stealer at second and a couple of base hits misplayed in the outfield allowed most of those runs to score.
C.W. Hong relieved and “kept their (Rainbows) bats quiet” for the first three innings but couldn’t nail down the third out in the sixth, taking the loss. The game ended on a two-run bloop single over the head of ACE shortstop C.H. Bae, allowing the tying and winning runs to score.
There were some bright spots offensively, Arocho said. Joe Romine plated two runs with a two-out fourth-inning double, Robert Baughman broke a “really bad slump” with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth, Steven Baker had two hits and G.T. Kim went 3-for-4 with four stolen bases. Edward Chung, picked off third base, plowed through the catcher to steal home in the third inning. Despite the dismal end to an “up-and-down” campaign, Arocho felt the friendships made by the American GIs, DOD civilians and dependents and the handful of South Korean civilians who comprise the team made for a successful season.
“Between the Koreans and the Americans, we made some good camaraderie, we got along very well,” he said, adding that the South Korean teams and league officials said much the same. “They enjoy us playing in their league. They tell us it brings out the best in them.”
Whether ACE reaches the playoffs or not, the team plans to enter the Hammer League again next year, Arocho said — very likely with Jim Kaderabek, who formed and coached the first American team to enter Taegu’s amateur circuit, the Hit Squad, eight years ago.
“Jim has expressed interest in coaching,” Arocho said of Kaderabek, 62, a Chicago native, a former St. Louis Cardinals Class A minor leaguer and a retired Army master sergeant working at the counseling center on Camp Henry. “I’ll probably turn over the reins to him.”
“I’ve been asked,” Kaderabek said. “It will be nice again.”