By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)August 24, 2017
The U.S. Marine Corps Detachment won its second consecutive Commander's Cup Softball Tournament, earning a 24-11 championship victory over the Air Force Detachment 1, 364th Training Squadron, Aug. 17 at Sports Complex B.
"I'm very proud," said Danny Fisher, Marine Det. coach. "They're back-to-back champions my first year here."
The Marines jumped out to an early lead, scoring nine runs in the top of the second inning on RBIs by Robert Speight, David Barnes, Paul Williams and Nate Hoy, and capped off with a grand-slam home run by Ryan "Buck" Davis.
"I just wanted to help the team out," Davis said.
The Air Force Det. remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when Mark Barnum hit a three-run home run. Tom Hartt batted in two runs on a single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Marine Det. extended their lead again on an RBI by Shane Newman, followed by a two-run home run by Dillon Beaird in the top of the fifth inning.
Trailing 12-5, Brandon Barnes sparked an Air Force rally with a leadoff solo home run to start the bottom of the fifth inning. Later, with bases loaded, Austin Winegardner, Aaron Seigler and Hartt strung together consecutive RBI-base hits to narrow the deficit to three runs, and an opposite-field two-RBI triple by Alfredo Esposito put the Air Force team within striking distance by the inning's end.
However, the Marine Det. team quickly regrouped in the top of the sixth inning, and with runners on first and third, Kevin Fulton swatted a line drive up the middle for a two-RBI double. Davis later followed with a three-run home run, giving the Marine Det. a 16-11 lead.
The Marines then worked to secure their victory in the top of the seventh inning. Speight hit a two-run, in-the-park home run, and RBIs by David Barnes, Andrew Heisinger, Hoy, Fulton and Davis made the seventh-inning total eight runs for a 24-11 lead.
Shortly before being presented with the 2017 tournament trophy, Fisher said his players were "very easy" to coach.
"Everyone's a team player, and we all play well together," he said.
Several Marine Det. players played on both the Marine Det. intramural team as well as the detachment's Recreation League Team. Davis was one of the Marine Det. players who also represented the post at the recent Military World Softball Tournament at Fort Gordon, Georgia, as a member of the FLW Hitsquad team.
"The softball leagues here on Fort Leonard Wood are great," Davis said. "I feel like it helps build the camaraderie between the different units of Marines. The guys that are MPs, Motor-T, everybody gets to come together and hang out on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights and get to know each other a little better."
Beaird, one of several players on both this year's and last year's championship team, said that being able to earn points for his unit on the softball field has been "a blast" this year
"The camaraderie, the teamwork, the brotherhood that we bring together every year is just awesome," Beaird said. "I couldn't ask for a better group of people to play with."
Meanwhile, on Field 12, the 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment rallied for 10 runs in one inning to earn a 12-10 win over the 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, to win the third-place game.
Earlier that night on Field 14, the Air Force Det. beat the 2-10th Inf. Bn., 15-5, to advance to the championship game.
"We keep it positive -- that's the main thing," Hartt said when asked about how the Air Force Det. improved this year. In addition to reaching the tournament-championship game, the team claimed the Conference A championship this season.
"It's a team effort," Hartt continued. "Not one guy can win this game. It takes everybody. We've been playing pretty solid all year."
The Marine Det. defeated the 2-48th Inf. Bn., 16-1, in its bid to return to the championship game.
The tournament began Aug. 8, with Staff Judge Advocate earning an 18-0 win over the 50th Engineer Company, and the 554th Engineer Battalion picking up a 23-2 victory over the 58th Transportation Battalion in the first round.
In second-round games played Aug. 9:
-- The Air Force Det. beat SJA, 21-1;
-- The 701st Military Police Battalion beat the 14th Military Police Brigade, 17-7;
-- The 2-10th Inf. Bn. defeated the Dental Activity, 14-10;
-- The 515th Engineer Company beat the 509th Engineer Company, 10-9;
-- The Marine Det. defeated the 554th Engr. Bn., 9-2;
-- The Noncommissioned Officer Academy defeated the 364th Training Squadron, 11-0;
-- The Medical Department Activity and the 2-48th Inf. Bn. each picked up a forfeit victory.
With rain postponing play on Aug. 10, teams returned to action Aug. 15. In those games:
-- The Air Force Det. advanced with a 20-9 win over the 701st MP Bn.;
-- The 2-10th Inf. Bn. beat the 515th Engr. Co. to reach the final four;
-- The Marine Det. defeated the NCOA, 15-0, to advance to the finals;
-- The 2-48th Inf. Bn. defeated MEDDAC, 19-13 in their semifinal.
In all, 18 teams took part in the single-elimination tournament. In order to participate, teams must have completed Fort Leonard Wood's nine-week intramural softball season, which began June 5.