Ho'okele Staff | Jun 30, 2012
Two key late-inning hits by Capt. Steve Nolan helped rally the 535th Airlift Squadron (535 AS) Tigers past the 25th Air Support Operation Squadron (25 ASOS), 5-4, in an intramural softball White Division game June 25 at Millican Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Down by a score of 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Nolan lined a shot into the gap to drive in the Tigers first run of the game and then stroked a leadoff single in the seventh to start the game-ending rally.
The win sent the 25 ASOS to their second loss in two weeks and, for the moment, put the team’s June 30 playoff date at the Hickam Softball Complex in jeopardy.
Instead, the 25 ASOS had to sweat out the night’s Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) versus 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) matchup to see if they would qualify as the fourth and final playoff squad from the White Division.
With NIOC’s win, the 25 ASOS edged the 324 IS by a half game and will play Afloat Division champs USS Reuban James (FFG 57) at 11 a.m. in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Tigers saw their season come to a close with a record of 8-5 and in sixth place.
“If we could be in the playoffs, that would be great,” said Nolan after stopping the 25 ASOS. “Otherwise, we’ll spoil somebody else’s fun.”
While the Tigers eventually came back to win, at first the game belonged to the 25 ASOS, which got on the scoreboard first with two runs in the top of the second.
Staff Sgt. Kenneth Bartle got things started for the 25 ASOS by blasting a long fly ball off the left-field fence for a double to place two runners in scoring position.
Capt. Chris Young singled to drive in the first run-before Bartle scored the second run on a sacrifice fly.
Although ahead by only two runs, the lead seemed to be in good hands as 25 ASOS pitcher Tech.
Sgt. Timothy Evans was tossing a gem over the first four innings of the game.
Evans allowed only four singles through the first four frames and had two outs with a runner on first in the fifth, before Nolan slammed the double that drove in the Tigers’ first run and began to turn the table.
“That got us to within striking distance,” Nolan said. “We were down 2-0. Any time you get a run across the board and start something, it’s a good thing.”
The two-bag hit appeared to unsettle Evans, who immediately walked the next runner and watched as 535 AS third baseman Tech. Sgt. Chris Baker reached on an error to load the bases.
The 25 ASOS lost their lead when Evans walked the next two batters to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers increased their lead by a run when Staff Sgt. Vincente Valdovinos banged an RBI single.
However, in the top of the seventh, the 25 ASOS got a leadoff single by Capt. Dave Kelly before Master Sgt. Jason Meinders crushed a pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run jack to tie the score at 4-4.
Then in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Nolan got on board with a single, before Evans walked the next two batters to load the bases for the Tigers.
Stepping up to the plate, Capt. Nick Carr got hold of an offering from Evans and sent it long enough for a sacrifice fly to drive in Nolan and the game-w i n n i n g run.
“Definitely with men on, I’m just looking to drive men home,” Carr said. “We started to hit well toward the end of the game and I was pretty confident.”
While the game held no playoff consequences for the Tigers, which were mathematically eliminated before their meeting with the 25 ASOS, Nolan said that it was still important for the team to play hard.
“We’re just having a good time hanging out together as best as we can and we want to win,” Nolan said.
“We don’t want to come out here for an hour for nothing.”