During his final intramural softball game at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Ryan Baker got his pitch.
The Airman connected and sent the ball over the right-center field fence at St. Helens Field on McChord Field to fuel a 6-run second inning and lead the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron to a 13-3 mercy rule win over the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in the JBLM Softball Championship Sept. 12.
It was great seeing both sides of the joint base, Baker said. This is the second championship in three years and this is the most people Ive ever seen out here. Its great for the softball community.
Its the squadrons third championship in four years, and Baker was a part of two of them. But his run with the Eagles concluded this year.
Baker is headed to Penn State-Hazleton where he will play center field for the schools baseball team.
Seventy-six teams completed the intramural regular season and starting this year, Air Force and Army teams were integrated in the 16-team playoff bracket. The top four Air Force teams and top 12 Army teams played in the two-week playoffs until the top two were determined. It just so happened the best of JBLM championship still pitted an Army team against an Air Force team.
Were sending forward a true representation of the top two teams, Intramural Sports Programmer Tara Ricci said. It makes for better competition, too.
The new tournament format will continue this fall with flag football and all other team sports moving forward.
During the playoffs the 62nd APS scored an average of 16 runs with an average of five runs allowed, and won by the 10-run rule often. The trend remained against the Rangers who were held to just three runs. The Eagles defense made it difficult for the Rangers to advance base runners as they turned a double play from left field to first base in the fourth inning.
The 62nd APS scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to give the squadron an 11-run lead. The Rangers loaded the bases twice in top of the fifth, but were only able to score one run to end the game on the mercy rule. Eagles pitcher Russell Clifton ended the game when he snagged a grounder right back at him and threw out the batter at first.
Clifton, Baker and five other 62nd APS softball players also play for the Trailer Park Ninjas, JBLMs traveling softball team. They recently played against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team at Cheney Stadium Aug. 31.
Most of us have been here for the last four years at least, Clifton said. Playing together all the time works for us.
The Rangers captain Jason Steere was pleased his team advanced to the championship with most of the battalion deployed. Steere said most of the Soldiers on the team hadnt played softball in 10 years, some even 20.
Colonel Anthony Davit, deputy commander of JBLM, presented the top two teams with their trophies.
Second place out of 76 teams that finished up, good on you, Davit said to the Rangers.
The Air Force also won last years intramural softball championship. The 627th Civil Engineer Squadron defeated the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion 16-15.