NEW YORK CITY -- The U.S. Army New York City softball team came to Citi Field in Queens Aug. 21 looking to have some fun. They also wanted to defend their title.
They entered the 3rd annual New York Mets Military Softball Classic having won the prior year in commanding fashion.
This year, as in years past, they would take on the Air Force and combined teams of the Marines/Coast Guard and Navy/Coast Guard in a round-robin tournament.
"It's a beautiful day, and we get to play on a major league field, so it's a lot of fun," said Army coach and first baseman Jonathan Femenella, a staff sergeant with the New York City Recruiting Battalion.
Things didn't start off as the Army would have liked, however.
Army lost its first game to the Navy/Coast Guard 6-3.
"We were just getting warmed up," Femenella said of the loss.
Army turned things around and won their second game against the Marines/Coast Guard 7-6.
On hand to see the action were many of the player's families.
Tiffany and five-year-old son Donnie were busy watching husband and dad Gabriel Ramos, third basemen for the Army team and a staff sergeant with the Army's New York City Recruiting Battalion.
"We love baseball," Tiffany said.
This was Gabriel's first year playing with the team, and with family cheering him and the rest of the crew on, the Army settled in for their final game of the day.
The Army's repeat hopes relied on beating the Air Force team.
Down 8-6 in the bottom of the last inning, a two-out double by Army had base runner and team leader Femenella rounding second base.
An Air Force relay throw overshot the catcher. Femenella, now tapping third, saw his chance.
He took off to home plate.
What initially looked like a chance to close the lead turned awry. The overthrown ball bounced off the back wall right into the catcher's glove.
Femenella was tagged out.
The Navy/Coast Guard team took this year's crown.
But, there were smiles all around, even in defeat. Ramos' son Donnie gave New York Mets player's hi-fives. He couldn't help but give a hug to New York Mets mascot Mr. Met.
Players from each team had a chance to meet and talk with Mets players and have lunch following the tournament. Afterwards, they went out on the field to watch the first solar eclipse over the contiguous United States since 1979.
And while there may not be a visible solar eclipse in the U.S. next year, the New York City Army softball team plans to come back to Citi Field for redemption.