JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
Coach Art Trevino may have been right all along about his 802nd Force Support Squadron team.
After claiming all year they were the team to beat in Joint Base San Antonio intramural softball, FSS backed up the coach's claim by defeating the 668th Alteration and Installation Squadron 10-9 Aug. 8 at JBSA-Randolph to repeat as JBSA intramural softball champions.
FSS thwarted the same 668th ALIS team that toppled FSS 7-6 in last year's base intramural semifinals. Trevino called the loss a fluke.
But ALIS played like champions, showing that its finals berth in the JBSA finals was no fluke as the two Lackland teams again vied for bragging rights - this time for the all-JBSA title.
The 802nd FSS opened with seven runs in the top of the first inning.
Undeterred by the early deficit, ALIS chipped away at the lead, responding with three runs in the bottom half of the first. FSS scored one run in the second to take an 8-3 lead, but a six-run barrage gave ALIS an 9-8 lead in the bottom of the second.
Coming off a hitless third inning from both sides, FSS was now facing a case of déjá vu, circa July 2011, with the possibility of another one-run loss to ALIS.
Warding off demons from the past, 802nd FSS scored the game's final two runs with fourth-inning contributions from Jason Sparks and Brian Goelz.
FSS pitcher Dan Miller held ALIS batters at bay, allowing only one hit the rest of the way as FSS secured its second straight JBSA intramural softball title.
"My thought was, we better wake our bats up or we could end up on the losing side," FSS catcher Mike Richardson said.
"We seem to be able to come together at the right moments," said FSS left-fielder Daniel Ayon, who hit an inside-the-park home run to begin FSS' seven-run, first inning attack.
"We clicked at the right times and that translated into more runs," Ayon said.
Trevino gave respect to ALIS, a Lackland Intermediate League team that wasn't originally one of the four Lackland entries to qualify for the 12-team JBSA softball tournament.
The original entry, the 343rd Training Squadron, won the base intramural softball title, but the base champs could not continue on to the JBSA tourney because of military commitments by some players.
With the best record of any remaining team on base, ALIS replaced the team that defeated them in the base quarterfinals, and made the most of it.
ALIS went on to defeat the Navy, the Air Force Recruiting Service, and the 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron to advance to the JBSA intramural softball title game.
"They proved they had a good team, but like us in the base tournament, they had a bad game, too, and weren't one of the four teams to originally qualify for the JBSA tourney," Trevino said. "They surprised me when they lost in the base tournament because I felt they had a better team this year than last year."
ALIS coach and right-fielder William Torres commended his team for playing valiantly in a losing effort despite its unexpected entry into the tournament.
"The team's goal was to put on a redeeming performance at the JBSA tourney after our early ouster in the JBSA-Lackland tournament," said Torres.
"I knew if we kept within one run, we had a good chance of scoring and winning the game," he said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen, so kudos to (FSS) for winning because they are an awesome team."
The two JBSA intramural softball finalists may play each other more often next season.
Torres said he hopes ALIS can reenter the Lackland Competitive League after being bumped down to the intermediate league this season because of miscommunication with the base sports office.
"There will be no mix-ups next season," Torres said. "We will be back in the competitive league, and we want another shot at FSS. It was tough losing to them."
FSS is looking forward to it as well.