Yokota thumps Zama to reclaim title
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 22, 2018
IWAKUNI, Japan – Steven Ferch walked off the field Tuesday with mixed feelings after his Yokota baseball team captured its third Far East Division II Tournament title in four years.
The sixth-year coach of the Panthers is transferring to Okinawa at school year’s end. Thus, he could be forgiven if he remained subdued while his players set to celebrating on the Kizuna Park baseball turf.
“Bittersweet,” Ferch said after his Panthers routed Zama 14-0 to capture the title. “It’s nice to win a championship, but it’s really sad for me to leave the blue and gold.”
It could also be the last of 27 banners the Panthers have won since being named a Division II school in November 2014. Yokota returns to large-school status with the start of the 2018-19 school year, DODEA- Pacific officials have told Stars and Stripes.
Tuesday’s victory was the result of a balanced performance, Ferch said, starting on the mound with Sean Caffrey, who struck out seven and allowed just one hit, a single by Trojans starter Josh Bayardo.
Caffrey helped himself by batting 2-for-4, including an RBI single. Troy Barnes, who batted a perfect 6-for-6 in the tournament, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Luke Wiedie had a triple among his two hits to go with two RBIs and Jack Winkler knocked in three runs. The Panthers outscored their three foes 31-0.
“Our bats were just amazing,” Ferch said.
The big worry for most teams in the tournament was keeping their arms fresh, what with a 125-pitch per pitcher limit. “We only used three arms and we had at least five more ready to go,” Ferch said of Caffrey, Barnes and Winkler. “That’s all we went with and that’s all we needed.”
There was also the incentive the Panthers needed after losing twice to host Matthew C. Perry in last year’s Far East tournament, by one run each, including the final.
Winkler took the ball for Yokota’s 6-0 vengeance victory over the Samurai. “That may have been the best I’ve ever seen Winkler pitch,” Ferch said, noting that 31 of his 35 pitches were strikes.
The tournament was cut from three days to two and finished on Tuesday due to a forecast of wet weather on Wednesday.
Under normal circumstances, it might be a happy victory ride home on board a bus for 12 hours … but the Panthers will share their travel bus with the Trojans on the way back.
“That’s going to be weird,” Ferch said.