By John W. PeelerAugust 7, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 7, 2013) -- A rally cry from coach Curtis Graffam to his heavily favored 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment, teammates at the end of the third inning echoed throughout Gowdy Field July 30 -- and his team responded.
The Cav Boyz of 5-15 overcame an early 3-1 deficit, but rallied in the fourth inning and never looked back in its 16-9 win over the 75th Ranger Regiment, in the Commander's Cup Softball Tournament championship.
"We had a rally in the bottom of the fourth inning," Graffam said. "The meat of our lineup was up and we started up with a couple of singles ... the lineup just kept on going one (hit) after another. "I believe we scored 10 or 12 runs in the inning. It kind of built our confidence up."
Graffam led off the top of the fourth with a walk to begin the 12-run inning. Two batters later, Matt Bragdon hit a two RBI double to knot the game at 3-3.
With two outs, first baseman Jason Little began a two-out rally with an RBI double to give the Cav Boyz a 4-3 lead.
The Cav Boyz ran off two more runs before Graffam made his second appearance at the plate in the inning.
Graffam answered his earlier rally cry -- slashing a three-run, inside-the-park home run to right center field. The Cav Boyz added three more runs in the inning and led, 13-3.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Rangers fought back by picking up four runs to cut the lead to 13-7 and added one more run in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 13-8.
The Cav Boyz had another solid inning in the bottom of the sixth with Graffam hitting a lead-off double and scored on an RBI single from Malcom Bass and a two RBI single from Jackie Jenkins to stretch the Boyz lead to 16-8 at the end of six.
In a last ditch effort, the Rangers scored one run in the top of the seventh, but the 5-15 defense forced two consecutive pop ups, and with two runners on base, the game ended with the third fly out of the game.
Graffam said there wasn't any point in time his team was concerned about being down a couple of runs early on.
"We've been down a couple of runs in the first couple of innings in the regular season, and I had total faith in my team to come back and score plenty of runs and hit the ball," he said.
The turning point in the game was the big fourth inning onslaught, but Graffam said after his team had the lead, playing sound defense was key.
"We scored some runs in the bottom of the sixth to kind of give us a cushion going into the seventh inning," he said. "We weren't too worried about runners scoring, but making the routine plays was the big thing, but we ended up coming out on top with good defense."
Graffam said he attributed the win to playing good defense, hard work and to having an all-around great team, but acknowledged the difficulty the Rangers had in playing two games in one night -- and going into an extra inning in its other game.
"It's hot out here ... they actually had to play eight innings, and it kind of tired them out going into this game," he said.
75th Ranger Regiment coach Heath Bouma said the extra game and the heat took its toll on the team.
"We had a 6 p.m. game and playing in the sun and the heat really got to us, Bouma said. "We played two games yesterday (July 29), so a lot of us were just tired.
"It was a good game in the beginning ... it was close, but they just came back on us, which is the same thing they did in the preseason."
Ranger's coach Eric Klinger said the way the Cav Boyz played was typical of how they had played the entire season.
"They played real hard all season," Klinger said. "They came back around with their big sticks just like we knew they had a good chance of doing so ... they gave it to us this time."
Graffam said the win made it a perfect season for the team.
"(This win) means a lot," Graffam said. "We're 20-0. We went through the preseason, the regular season and the postseason and didn't lose a game.
"It just goes to show the post we are here to play. Coming in from Fort Knox (Ky.) last year, we really didn't have a decent showing last year ... I think we finished third or fourth and this year we came back and actually stepped up our game a little bit, I think."