By Scott Prater
Defending league champions 4th Space Operations Squadron had claimed five straight wins to start their 2009 campaign. Likewise, National Reconnaissance Operations Squadron started its season on a five-game unbeaten streak, while averaging more than 20 runs a game.
4th SOPS’ Tyler Kimes provided a glimpse of what was to come when he smashed a two-run triple to the right-field fence in the top of the first inning. NOPS’ first-inning answer? Two groundouts and a pop fly.
In all, 4th SOPS collected 26 hits over five innings and garnered key defensive plays throughout while rolling to a 24-1 victory.
These weren’t power blasts either — 20 of the team’s 24 base hits were singles, and all 13 of the team’s batters recorded at least one hit.
“We’ve got a bunch of new talent into the squadron between this year and last year, and it has definitely paid off for us,” said 4th SOPS team captain Myron Bryant. “We’re clicking on all cylinders right now.”
4th SOPS opened the second inning with three straight singles and David Woods followed with a three-run double. Mark Wojtowicz followed Woods by smashing a two-run inside-the-park home run. By the time NOPS had recorded its third out, 4th SOPS led 13-0.
The 2008 league champions added two runs in the third inning, four more in the fourth and seven more in the fifth. Wojtowicz, 4th SOPS’ lead-off hitter, had three hits and scored three runs, and Rusty Mardis, the team’s No. 7 hitter, went 4-for-4 and scored three runs.
“It wasn’t just offense,” Bryant said. “Not only was it a great hitting performance, but the way we fielded today I think we took away a lot of hits from them. With Mardis on the mound, we didn’t give them much to swing at either, so…”
4th SOPS snagged a runner at home to thwart a second-inning NOPS rally, and right fielder Ryan Miller threw a runner out at third base to stop a NOPS scoring threat again in the fourth.
But, NOPS team captain Gary Thomsen refused to accept the 4th SOPS’ solid-defense argument.
“We just didn’t hit the ball well today,” Thomsen said. “The lowest scoring game we had coming into this game was 19 runs, so we’re going to get some hitting practice in and get our confidence back. I think that’s all we need to do.”