Hustle and grit leads William P. Lawrence to title

Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class Travis Holleman beats catcher Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Brian Wood and slides safely into home after making a mad dash from third.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) Pukin Dogs duplicated their perfect regular season in the playoffs by going undefeated to win the 2018 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam softball championship with a 21-8 defeat of Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii July 8 at the Hickam Softball Complex.

Early in the game, the Pukin Dogs trailed twice, but came back each time to take the lead, before exploding for 13 runs in the top of the fifth inning to put the game away for good.

“It’s great to be able to come out here, relax and be with your friends,” said Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class Travis Holleman, who is leaving for another duty station and won’t be back to help the Pukin Dogs defend their title.

“It brings you closer together and it’s been a great experience.”

Holleman, who also served as coach last season, was the epitome of the hard-nosed take-no-prisoners style of play that set the Pukin Dogs apart from the league all season long.

The Dogs fell behind NIOC in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Brian Wood. But they took their first lead of the game, when Dogs pitcher Damage Controlman 1st Class Thomas Hooper blasted a two-run shot over the right-center field fence in the very next frame.

However, back came NIOC, as a single from Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Pierce McKenzie, accompanied by a fielding error, allowed two runs to score and put NIOC back in front at 3-2.

Then in the top of the third, it was the Pukin Dogs’ turn to rally and retake the lead at 8-3.

Two big hits accounted for the six runs, as Lt. j. g. Sean Gallagher smashed a three-run shot over the fence, which was followed by a gutsy inside-the-park job by Holleman that plated three more runs.

In perhaps the most dramatic moment of the game, Holleman lined a gapper that split the out-field and rolled all the way to the fence.

After two runs scored, Holleman stopped on third only to see the ball, thrown to home, bob-bled by the catcher.

The heads-up Holleman took full advantage of the situation and dove for the plate to score the team’s sixth run of the game.

“I’m running around second base and seen the cutoff man get it,” Holleman described.

“I see him shoot to four and I immediately turn to look. I’m saying in my head that if he bobbles it at home, I’m going to go.”

NIOC came back to pick up two runs in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Andrew Conrad and a double by Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Luis Perez, but it turned out to be the calm before the storm.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Pukin Dogs rapped out an incredible 12 hits, with two going for extra bases and seven coming in a row, to rally for 13 runs.

Hooper got things going with a single to drive in two runs. He was followed by run-scoring hits from Fire Controlman (Aegis) 3rd Class Daniel McIntyre (two runs), Fire Controlman 1st Class Roman Carroll, Lt. j.g. Will Patchen, Fire Controlman 3rd Class Keith Vandiver, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Emmanuel Duncan, Gallagher (two runs), Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Danny Meadows (two runs) and one more single for an RBI by McIntyre.

Hooper said that if he could change one thing, it would be that the championship win would have come against the Hawaii Air National Guard, who beat the Pukin Dogs in last season’s semifinals.

Still, Hooper said he was more than proud of the way the team learned from their mistakes a year ago and used it to go all the way this time around.

“Last year, we lost it, but this year we had a lot of returners, but a few were just great ballplayers,” Hooper said.

“Everybody was really good at communicating, and this year, everybody had one goal and no one was bigger than the team. It was just a good time.”

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Category: Sports