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Master Class

Josh VanDyke • Aug 3, 2018 at 11:45 PM

If you wander down to the softball fields adjacent to Mulligan's Hollow Park on the first Friday morning of every August, chances are you'll see a familiar team rounding the bases and lighting up the scoreboard.

The Batters have been a mainstay in the championship game of the Coast Guard Softball Tournament, and this year's edition was no exception. After falling to the Alameda Eagles in last year's finals, the club came back with some added motivation to get back to the top.

Ultimately, they found a way to inch past their challengers, Cleveland Never Forgets, for a dramatic 7-3 win Friday.

"This is my 18th year playing in this tournament and it's great to come back and get a victory," said team captain Master Chief Petty Officer Marvin Rodgers. "It's always great to be here and play in this event. Most of these guys come back year after year. I would say most of this particular team has played in this tournament 10 to 12 years now. We just enjoy meeting up for this tournament every year and it's always a lot of fun.

"These guys are stationed all over the place most of the year, so we never get a chance to see each other. This week is a chance for us to all meet up and hang out once a year. That's the main reason we do this. Softball is just a nice little bonus."

Friday's championship game started slow, with neither team scoring during the opening inning. In the following two innings, however, both teams scratched across three runs apiece to ratchet up the intensity between both clubhouses.

The score would remain deadlocked at 3-3 for the next three innings, until the Batters found a rhythm in the bottom of the sixth.

A stand-up triple to open the inning was quickly turned into an RBI in the following at-bat to push the Batters ahead, 4-3. Patience at the plate resulted in a walk and a base hit to put runners in scoring position with only one out on the scoreboard.

That's when the game would ultimately break open, when a Batter connected on an eye-level pitch and sent it sailing over the centerfield fence for a three-run home run and put the team ahead for good by a score of 7-3.

The Batters would put their challengers away with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh to claim the championship.

"That was huge for us," Rodgers reflected on the late-game home run. "Anytime you can get a run going on a good team like that late in a game, it's just a huge momentum swing. It was a tie game most of the way, and we just happened to eek out a couple more runs.

"That was a great, competitive game from those guys, and I expect we'll see them again next year. The championship game is usually pretty high scoring, so this one was a little different. I think a few years ago, we beat the Bucket Heads, and I think the score was 22-21 or something like that. So, you just never know how these games are going to play out."

Rodgers, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, has been an active participant in baseball and softball since he was a kid.

"I've been playing baseball since I was 11, so I've been involved in sports my whole life," he added. "I've always loved playing the game, and this is just a way for me to keep playing it. Slow-pitch softball is a lot different because you have to adjust to the height of the pitch and it really tests your patience at the plate. Sometimes you might think you got a hold of a pitch and it just sails up on you because you swung at something too high."

The Batters will celebrate their championship tonight, but quickly turn their attention back to home base.

"Tonight is the big night for most of these guys," Rodgers added. "They'll go out and celebrate with family and friends, but tomorrow, most of us will head back home and get ready for work on Monday."

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