Defense keeps U.S. Pacific Fleet ahead of Company I

Chief Yeoman Mathew Hoover lines a single to drive in the fi rst run for COMPACFLT.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Commander, United States Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) fell behind early but got back on top to stay. The team held off Company I (CO I), 5-3, on May 16 in a Red Division intramural softball game at Millican Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Down by a run going into the bottom of the first inning, COMPACFLT picked up two runs in the bottom of the frame and never looked back again as two pitchers combined to keep the CO I bats quiet.

COMPACFLT evened out their record at 2-2, while CO I lost their fourth game in a row and fell to 0-4.

“I think today we fielded the ball better in the infield and in the outfield also,” said Lt. Cmdr. Austin Maxwell, who drove in two of the team’s runs on sacrifice fly balls. “We communicated better. We scored only five runs, but we held them to only a few, so our fielding was the difference today.”

CO I scored the first run of the game in the top of the first inning on a dropped fly ball in the outfield that ushered in a runner from third.

However, in the bottom of the frame, COMPACFLT put two men on with only one out to set up an RBI single by Chief Yeoman Mathew Hoover that tied the score at 1-1.

Then, with runners on first and third, Operations Specialist 1st Class Luis Polanco ripped another base hit to drive in the team’s second run of the inning and take a 2-1 lead.

After CO I failed to score in the top of the second, COMPACFLT used the opportunity to pad their lead with a third run in the bottom of the frame.

CO I almost got out of the inning without any damage, but a ground ball that was mishandled by the third baseman proved to be their undoing. The fielding error allowed the runner on third base to score and give COMPACFLT a 3-1 advantage.

“We hit the ball well in our last two ball games,” Maxwell said about the team’s ability to keep the ball in play.

In fact, Maxwell’s aptness at making contact in clutch situations turned out to be the main difference in the game.

In the bottom of the fourth, Maxwell came up with one out and a runner in scoring position and promptly launched a long fly ball that was caught in the outfield. However, the ball traveled far enough to easily score the runner from third to make it a 4-1 game.

While neither team put up any runs on the board in the fifth inning, CO I threatened to cut into the lead in the top of the sixth, when the team loaded up the bases with two outs.

Instead of succumbing to the pressure, COMPACFLT pitcher Lt. Cmdr. David Silva induced the next CO I batter to pop up harmlessly into the glove of the team’s second baseman to end the potential rally.

After dodging the bullet, COMPACFLT extended their lead by a run, when Maxwell stepped up to plate with the bases loaded and lofted another deep fly ball to drive in the team’s final run with his second sacrifice fly of the game.

“I’m a golfer, so I’m just trying not to strike out,” Maxwell said. “I wish I could have hit a few in the gap, but the wind was crazy today.”

While it didn’t appear that the two sac flies by Maxwell would play such an important role in the team’s win, the runs turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

CO I bats were held quiet after the first inning, but in their final turn at-bat, the team picked up a couple of extra-base hits to drive in two runs with only one out.

Silva, however, like he did in the an inning earlier, stepped up to shut the door on CO 1 by setting down the next two batters in order to preserve the victory.

Maxwell said that with a month done in the new season, he believes that COMPACFLT is finally putting things together.

He said the biggest reason is that the players are finally talking to each other on the field, and that seems to be what the team needed.

“What we did really well today is that the out-field started communicating a lot more,” he said.

“Today, you saw less errors in the outfield just because we’ve been working together a lot more.”

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Category: Sports