By Scott Prater
Brian Meyers sensed something was wrong. His 2nd Space Operations Squadron teammates seemed to be pressing a bit. So, while trailing 4th SOPS 4-0 in the bottom half of the third inning, Meyers asked them to do what some consider to be unthinkable.
“He actually asked us to do less,” said 2nd SOPS designated hitter Joe Riedesel.
Riedesel was only half joking. Meyers, 2nd SOPS captain, did ask his teammates to ease up a bit. And they responded by scoring five runs in the bottom half of that third inning en route to an 8-5 victory over defending intramural softball champion 4th SOPS.
“They were a little tight, a little wound up, and they were trying to do too much,” Meyers said. “I just told them they didn’t have to do anything extra just because we were playing 4th SOPS. That seemed to bring everyone back down and we started doing what we’ve been doing all year.”
Following two scoreless innings, which saw just one runner reach base, 4th SOPS erupted for four runs, all coming with two outs. Mark Wojtowicz doubled to left center field and raced home on a two base error. Ryan Miller followed by fisting an inside pitch to shallow right field and Kenny Smith drove him home with a double that turned into an inside the park home run thanks to another 2nd SOPS error. Luke Zimmerman then took a walk and Rusty Mardis drove him home with a triple to right field.
2nd SOPS didn’t have so much as a base hit to that point, but following Meyer’s pep talk, the team not only answered, but took the lead for good with five runs in the next inning.
Roger Gallardo smashed a two-run homer over the left field fence and Riedesel followed two batters later with a home run to nearly the same spot. Mike Maynor led off the inning by reaching on a 4th SOPS error and Pat Gaynor drove him home with a triple to right field.
Gallardo’s homer was his sixth of the season, but Meyers said he did more to ensure the win from the pitcher’s mound. Gallardo induced seven fly balls and struck out two batters.
“The wind was helping my curve and knuckle ball,” Gallardo said. “I always try to get strikeouts, especially in the wind. The wind helps the curve because it looks like it’s coming right at you and then it breaks at the last second.”
Kenny Smith’s fifth- inning RBI double was all the scoring 4th SOPS could manage the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Chris James picked up the game-winning hit with an inside-the-park home run in the top of the sixth and Eric Morales added a pair of insurance runs with his single in the seventh.
“This matchup always seems to come down to a couple of runs,” said 4th SOPS captain Myron Bryant. “You can’t take anything away from Roger (Gallardo) who was having a great day on the mound. I just told our players not to remember last year, when they beat us in the regular season, then we beat them twice in the tournament to win the championship. Our guys are not going to let this get them down. We’re going to come back and play like we always do.”
2nd SOPS improved to 11-2 and vaulted into a tie for first place in the league standings with the win. But, 4th SOPS and Players Pool could finish the season with identical records, forcing a three-way tie atop the standings.
The post season tournament begins Aug. 3 at the Schriever Softball complex off of Falcon Parkway. Contact the fitness center at 567-6628 for tournament times and dates.