Vannoy helps Wing defend softball title
Stars and Stripes August 16, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — He’s been named All-Marine six times and All-Armed Forces twice. But not until Friday had Tim Vannoy ever put a Marine Corps Regional Softball Tournament gold medal around his neck.
Vannoy batted 2-for-3 and pitched the last three outs in relief of Richie Krause as Vannoy’s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing repeated its Far East Regional championship, edging Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni 5-3 at Gunner’s Fitness Center Softball Complex Field 1.
"It’s outstanding. There’s no better feeling," said Vannoy, 36, a master sergeant with 15 years of service. He won five silver medals in regionals on Okinawa and the East and West coasts, but never gold.
It was also the first gold medal as a coach for Krause, a three-time All-Marine. He said he imparted three keys to victory to his players prior to the tournament.
"Stay within yourself. Make the routine plays. Have fun," he said. "I guaranteed them if they did, they’d be sitting here with the gold."
For Bob Willard, Friday’s victory meant a second straight gold for himself as well as the team. And he played a big hand in it, lacing a liner between outfielders Ken Gilkey and James Albsmeyer for a three-run inside-the-park homer in the third which put Wing ahead to stay.
Iwakuni had gone ahead 1-0 on Jeremy Press’ two-out RBI single. Following Willard’s homer, Chris Wine singled in a run, and tournament MVP Joshua O’Brien hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1 in the fifth.
Then came what Iwakuni coach Michael Wilder called the game’s "turning point." With runners on first and second and one out in the sixth, Aaron Marsh singled in a run, but a relay throw from O’Brien to shortstop Tim Dawsey to catcher Meaty Hinkhouse nailed Albsmeyer at home.
Wilder argued with the umpires that Albsmeyer slid under the tag, but to no avail. "He was safe. That could have tied it for us," Wilder said of the aborted rally. "That was the backbreaker for us."
Iwakuni again threatened in the seventh, putting runners at first and third with one out, but pinch-hitter Keith Applegate was called out on strikes on a pitch he felt was "deep and outside." Justin Rodriguez then singled in a run, but that was as close as Iwakuni got.
Coaches and players called it a team effort. "Everyone contributed," Wine said.
O’Brien one of five Wing players going to tryout camp
O’Brien was also one of five Wing players named to the All-Marine tryout camp Aug. 28-Sept. 18 at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.
The first-time camp selection is joined by Krause, Vannoy, two-time camp pick Willard and first-time selection Wine. Two other camp rookies are Iwakuni’s Marsh and Rolando Wallace of 3rd Marine Logistics Group.
They’ll vie for berths on the All-Marine team playing in the All-Armed Forces tournament Sept. 19-24 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The All-Armed Forces team then heads to Oklahoma City for the Amateur Softball Association national championship Oct. 1-5.