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WAEGWAN, South Korea — The latest incarnation of a GI team playing in Taegu’s amateur baseball circuit got off to a rough start Sunday.

Taegu ACE — soldiers, DOD civilians, contractors, dependents and a handful of Korean civilians — fell 17-16 to the Taegu Magpies, a Korean team in Taegu’s Hammer League, at a riverside field near Camp Carroll.

“The pitching didn’t hold up,” said coach Pedro Arocho, who started the game and went the first two innings before removing himself after feeling his elbow stiffen.

Relievers Kevin Rioles, S.J. Park and Jacob Ramos combined to walk 12 Magpies batters, six with the bases loaded.

Rioles did his part with the bat, hitting a grand slam and singling twice to finish with six RBIs.

“Just about everybody on the team got on base,” Arocho said. “Our bats kept us in it. But the pitching was dreadful. And we had a couple of routine fly balls that fell in due to miscommunication in the outfield.”

Teams composed primarily of soldiers began playing in Taegu’s amateur leagues in 1997, with games played at Camp Henry in Taegu and Camp Carroll in nearby Waegwan, to foster goodwill between Americans and Koreans.

This year’s team includes Korean civilians, an effort to avert situations in which mid-tour leaves, duty and other commitments leave the squad without enough players, Arocho said.

“Both sides of the team get along really well,” he said.

The change evolved during the winter, when Arocho met with John Lee, an Army reservist working in orthopedics at Taegu Catholic Hospital.

“I’ve known him for a couple of years,” Arocho said. “We were talking baseball and sort of came up with the idea of having Koreans and Americans on the team. He was able to get some players interested in playing for us and we got together in February and began practicing.”

In 2004, the Taegu Lumber, composed of Americans, played in the MBC/ESPN league. The season was marred by a July 11 beanball game against Taegu Equus, in which six players were hit by pitched balls. Equus walked off the field despite leading 9-7 at the time.


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