HIANG makes improbable comeback to escape defeat

Master Sgt. John Fukumoto drives in his third run of the game.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Trailing by two runs and down to their final out, the Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) reached into their bag of tricks to score three times and steal a head-scratching victory over the 37th Intelligence Squadron/352nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron (37 IS/352 COS) by score of 9-8 on June 14. The action took place in a White Division intramural softball matchup at Millican Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The win kept HIANG in the mix for the White pennant with a record of 6-1, while the hard-luck 37 IS/352 COS lost for the sixth time in eight tries.

HIANG trailed for almost the entire game, as the 37 IS/352 COS once even held a three-run lead at 4-1.

The team even added an insurance run in the top of the seventh and final inning to lead the HIANG by a score of 8-6.

After HIANG’s first two batters produced outs in the bottom of the seventh, it appeared even more probable that the 37 IS/352 COS would hang on to win.

However, HIANG managed to stick around to put the tying runs on base and set the stage for Staff Sgt. Kalani Souza.

On the very first pitch, Souza swung for the fences, but instead sent a foul tip back to the catcher.

Instead of gloving the ball for the final game-ending out, the ball popped out of the catcher’s glove.

Souza took full advantage of his second life and pounded the next pitch deep into right field to score two runners and tie the score at 8-8.

Then, after seeing the throw to home pull the catcher away, an alert Souza made a dash for the plate and scored the game-winning run.

“In my head, I didn’t picture it to end like that,” Souza said. “On the first pitch, I was just trying to hit the ball hard. And then the second one, I was just trying to make contact and hit the ball on the field. The softball gods did it I guess.”

Souza said that once he saw that no one was covering home, he knew that he would easily score from third base.

“We all played baseball, so it’s all that baseball knowledge,” he said. “And we’ve been playing awhile together.”

Prior to the mad dash to home, HIANG’s first lead was in the top of the first inning, when Master Sgt. John Fukumoto slashed a single to drive in a run.

The lead was short lived though, as HIANG gave up a run to the 37 IS/352 COS on an error and then allowed two more runs to score in the top of the second inning on a single by Senior Airman Ian Hunter.

In the top of the third, the 37 IS/352 COS made it 4-1 after Master Sgt. Jake Kearney drilled a line drive off the left-field fence to drive in the run.

The HIANG closed the gap in the bottom of the frame on a run-scoring sacrifice by Fukumoto and an RBI single by Souza to make it 4-3.

Then, the HIANG took a 6-4 lead by scoring three times in the bottom of the fifth, with Fukumoto picking up his third RBI of the game in the rally.

The 37 IS/352 COS came back to retake the lead at 8-6, with two of the runs coming off a triple by Kearney. It wasn’t enough, as HIANG stunned everyone at Millican Field with the two-out rally.

Souza said that after all these years of playing together, it’s great that the HIANG still has enough juice to pull out a surprise here and there.

While Souza said he loves playing with his teammates, he hopes the next game will be easier.

“Hopefully it’s not so close next time,” Souza said.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: Sports