RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
The 12th Mission Support Group's Fire Department won a hard-fought softball game against the 562nd Flying Training Squadron Tuesday evening with a score of 17-15.
The lead in the hotly contested face-off changed hands twice -- and players on both teams were hitting strongly.
The game -- played in oppressive heat - saw the 562nd start to take the initiative in the top of the first inning when the Gators' Jarod Hughes tripled to left field after the Fire Department accumulated three quick outs. Drew Frasch then popped out and Hughes stole home. Then John Pilong hit a home run, Alan Bussey singled to left field and Greg Mullen popped out to end the first inning. The 562nd was ahead 2-0.
But the Fire Department came back at the top of the second inning when Charles Lambardia hit a home run to center field. Then Eduardo Sierra singled. Another player singled and Sierra was out at second base. Two quick outs followed and the inning ended.
The Gators were up next and Pilong popped out. Jason McCardell then walked and Jeremy Shadroui singled to center field, sending McCardell to second base. Danny Lambert then singled and the bases were loaded. Frasch hit to center field right after that and didn't make it to first base and Shadroiui was tagged out at second as the Fire Department turned a double play
The Fire Department then tried to come back during the top of the third inning. Ryan Vargas hit, Greg Cruz popped out and Ryan O'Grady grounded out to second .
The Gators' turn at bat saw Hughes hit a home run and Frasch triple, both to left field. Then Pilong tripled to right field and scored when Bussey was out at first on a fielder's choice.
The hits kept coming from the Gators -- Greg Mullen singled and Pilong doubled, bringing Mullen home. Another Gator hit and Pilong came home. McCardell then singled, Shadroui flied out and Danny Lambert singled, moving McCardell made it to third base. Then Frasch flied out to left field and the Gators' portion of that inning was over.
The Fire Department was up at the top of the fourth inning and David Gamez walked . Then player -coach Pete Barela whacked a home run and Jared Drosch flew out in center field.
Lambardia then homered and Sierra walked to first base. Another player singled, moving Lambardia to second base, and then Zachary McKinney singled, loading the bases. A sacrifice fly brought another player home and then a hit sent McKinney home. Then another player was tagged out at third and the inning was over. The score was 7-6, with the 562nd in the lead.
The Gators came up at bat and Hughes reached first on a dropped fly ball. Frasch popped out and Pilong singled, bringing Hughes to third. Bussey walked and the bases were loaded. Mullen then singled, bringing Hughes home. There was an out at third base and then Pilong popped out. Score: 8 to 6, in the Gators' favor.
In the fifth inning, the Fire Department struggled back with three singles by Ryan O'Grady, David Gamez and James Collier. O'Grady was tagged on a sprint to second. Drosch singled to left field, bringing O' Grady home. Lambardia fouled and Barela ran home.
Then Lambardia took another swing and connected, bringing Chris Perez home. Sierra , another teammate Collier singled one after the other, bringing another team mate home and Ryan Vargas singled, bringing home another teammate.
Now the Fire Department was ahead 12-9 and the Gators came out slugging, with three quick singles by McCardell, Steve Gregor and John Apostolides. Elliott Torres also singled, bringing in designated runner Pick Pickrel. That brought the score to 12-10.
The Gators scored another run after Hughes singled and Frasch hit and was tagged out at first and brought Apostolides home.
The bases were loaded and the score was 12-11 in favor of the firefighters. Alan Bussey singled, bringing Hughes home. With runners on first and third, Mullen singled and Pilong came home.
Heading into the sixth inning, the game was tied at 12-12.
The firefighters were now up and one of them walked. O'Grady then doubled, sending that runner to third. With the score still tied and second and third full, Gamez flied out, bringing a designated runner home. Barela then doubled, sending O'Grady and another teammate home. O'Grady came up to bat, walked and the Fire Department was ahead 16-12 after the inning ended.
After a tag-out at first with runners on second and third, Zachary McKinney singled and Charles Lambardia came home. The firefighters were in the lead 17-12. The 562nd then scored three runs, but it was too late and time ran out ending the game at 17-15.
"We were down for a while, but we came back," said Fire Department player Cliff Martinez. "We fought hard. We made a lot of errors. But we stuck to it -- and that's about it."