Ho'okele Staff | Jun 08, 2012
With a backlog of Gold Division teams jamming the top of the standings with only two defeats, the 613th Air and Space Operation Center (613 AOC) created some breathing room by toppling the league-leading 735th Air Mobility Squadron (735 AMS), 14-13, and Pearl City Peninsula (PCP), 29-14, to take both sides of a twin bill June 5 at Hickam Softball Complex, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The wins boosted the 613 AOC from fifth place all the way up to second with a record of 7-2, behind the 9-2 Kunia Kavemen, while the 735 AMS and PCP suffered their third loss of the season.
“This was huge for us,” said 613 AOC infielder Maj. J.B. Wills, who launched a grand slam and solo inside-the-park shot in the nightcap. “Confidence and getting some good players back helped us a lot.”
In the opener, the 613 got into trouble early when the 735 AMS immediately flexed their muscles with a two-run shot over the center-field fence by Staff Sgt. Alejandro Lopez in the first inning.
The blast seemed to give the 735 momentum as the team scored three runs in the first and five in the second.
However, despite the quick outburst by the 735, the 613 AOC hung in and trailed by only two runs, 8-6, after two innings of play.
After holding the 735 scoreless in the top of the third, the 613 tallied three times in the bottom half of the frame for a 9-8 advantage.
A leadoff double by 735 AMS Master Sgt. Cory Cameron led to a 9-9 tie in the top of the fourth, but the 613 retook the lead in their turn at-bat by crossing home four times, with three of the runs scored after two outs.
Tech. Sgt. C.J. Hodge drove in the first of the four runs with a single and, after Tech. Sgt. Jason Gaddis doubled to put men on second and third, Master Sgt. Thornton Thompson came up with a clutch two-run single.
While both teams exchanged zeroes in the fifth inning, Lopez came back in the top of the sixth and set off another rally for the 735 by blasting a solo shot that cleared the left-field fence.
Once again the Lopez bomb ignited the 735, which proceeded to add three more runs in the inning to draw even with the 613 at 13-13.
Then in the bottom of the sixth with one out, Hodge slugged a solo jack to put the 613 up by one.
The slim advantage was all the 613 needed as pitcher Department of Defense civilian Rod Cline set down the 735 in order in the top of the seventh to preserve the victory.
Senior Master Sgt. Chad Nixon, manager of the 735, expressed some concern about absorbing his third loss of the season, but added that as long as he has the right people in place he still expects to make the playoffs.
“It’s scary right now because so many teams had only two losses, now we’ve got three, and they’re only taking the top four (to the playoffs),” pointed out Nixon, who collected three hits in the team’s loss. “I have a good lineup in my mind, I have not seen it on the field all year, but I think it’s going to be here just in time. We’re really close. I think we can wreak havoc on any team out here.”
In the second game, the heavy bats in the heart of the 613 batting order went right to work and came out swinging against PCP.
Gaddis, who was playing in his first games all season, blasted a three-run homer in the top of the first to quickly put the 613 out in front.
Hodges continued his hot hitting at the plate by matching Gaddis with a three-run shot of his own in the top of the second, before Wills broke the game wide open with a monstrous deep fly over the left-field fence for a grand slam in the top of the fourth.
“The middle and the end of our lineup showed up big,” said Wills about the team’s strong night at the plate. “They were hitting the gaps and coming up with consistent hits that kept us in there. Fourteen runs in the first game and it just carried over.”
Although the 613 said goodbye to the services of versatile player Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hartfield, the team welcomed back the powerful-hitting Gaddis, who also solidifies the infield with his play at shortstop.
After getting his first look at this year’s edition of the squad, Gaddis pronounced that the 613 AOC has the makings of a championship team.
“We’re definitely competitive,” he said. “I think we have a good shot to run through the playoffs. Obviously, if we come out and hit like that, we can play with anyone. We just got to keep hitting.”