<b>HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga.</b> - The Third Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, added yet another trophy to their trophy case, thanks to their D Company's 8-3 victory over the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah the Hunter Army Airfield 2010 Intramural Softball Championship, played at the Squires Sports Complex, July 22.

SOAR, also the 2009 champions, breezed through the first three rounds of the tournament, defeating the 10th Transportation Company, 17-1; 224th Military Intelligence Battalion, 17-3; and the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 19-13.

Due to their loss in round two, the Coast Guard had to play five games, including earning three wins in the loser's bracket that culminated with a thriller earlier in the day against the 3rd CAB 14-13, to battle back to reach the finals.

SOAR, the regular-season champions with a 17-3 record, attributes their success to a deep roster that featured many players from the 2009 championship team.

"We knew before the season that we had the talent to repeat as champions," said J.R. Brown, SOAR player-coach. "We have great team chemistry, which shows in how we play together as a team. We all deploy together and trust each other to have each other's backs ... whether it's in battle or playing sports."

The contest was scoreless until SOAR's Danny Archer led off the third inning with a long homerun over the leftfield fence.

The Coast Guard knotted the game with a run of their own in the bottom of the third. Brian McCaffrey led off by reaching on an infield error, advanced to second on a long fly out, and raced home on a single by Ryan Otte.

SOAR regained the lead in the fifth when James Vaughn singled with one out, followed by a single by Archer. Vaughn was erased at second on a grounder to s by Christopher Townsley. With two outs, Omar Rodriguez blooped a single out of the outstretched arms of Coast Guard first basemen Cameron Kelso, as Vaughn and Townsley scampered home.

The Coast Guard showed their resiliency by plating two runs in the sixth. Following a Charley Fowler single, Ryan Otte drove him home with a triple over the centerfielders head. Otte scored on an Adam Morehouse sacrifice fly.

In the top of the seventh, with the game knotted at 3-3, SOAR's bats came alive. Vaughn got it started with a two-run double, and came around to score on a Rodriguez single. Rodriguez scored on a well-placed line drive down the right field line by Matthew Thomas that turned into an inside-the-park homerun.

Down by five, the Coast Guard showed signs of answering the call in the bottom of the seventh when Evan McCant and Damien Gordon each singled. However, the next three hitters were retired to end the threat and to secure the SOAR victory.

Leadoff hitter Rodriguez led the SOAR offense with a perfect 4-for-4 evening.

"I like hitting leadoff," Rodriguez said. "I think it is important for a club to have a good leadoff hitter because it sets the tempo for a team's offense."

SOAR, which averaged 15 runs a game during the season, was held to just three runs by the Coast Guard through six innings.

"This was a well-played game," said Fowler, Coast Guard player-coach. "Both teams played smart ball; neither team gave the other team free base runners to prolong rallies."

It was fitting that these two titans met in the finals of the tournament. The Coast Guard finished right behind SOAR in the regular season with a 16-3 record.

"Though we finished second, this was a successful season," Fowler said. "This was our best season of the three since I've been (assigned) here. Not to mention that any time you get to play softball after work is a good thing.

D Co., 3/160 SOAR 8 16 2
USCG Savannah 3 8 2

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16