by Scott Prater
One would have thought Miller had dived for a game-saving catch. The thing is, his 4th Space Operations Squadron led by 20 runs at that point.
The play epitomized the effort 4th SOPS players put out during their 24-3 second-round playoff win over 50th Civil Engineer Squadron Aug. 4.
“Yeah, it wasn’t the championship game, but it was Miller’s last game of the season,” 4th SOPS coach Myron Bryant said. “He’ll be leaving for temporary duty before our next game and he wasn’t going to go out without making a highlight-reel play.”
Miller also hit a two-run homer, one of two on the day for defending champion 4th SOPS, which remained unbeaten in playoff tournament play.
50th CES rode into the second round after outlasting National Reconnaissance Office Operations Squadron 24-23 on the first day of the tournament, but Aug. 4’s matchup against 4th SOPS proved entirely different.
“This was a frustrating day for us,” 50th CES player/coach Jason Hanson said. “We had a bad inning, which led to some frustration, but we’ll pick up our offense and keep our heads up.”
Despite the loss, 50th CES remained alive in the double-elimination tournament, but its chances of advancing to the final game became that much harder.
4th SOPS meanwhile advanced in the winner’s bracket and will face Players Pool in the third round.
The team started on fire, scoring six runs in the first inning, then blew the game open with nine more in the second.
Kenny Smith hit his seventh home run of the season in the second as 4th SOPS batted around. He finished with three hits, two RBI and three runs scored, but he wasn’t the only 4th SOPS player to have a big day at the plate. Miller, Mark Wojtowicz, Rusty Mardis and Luke Zimmerman all collected three base hits.
“We came out hitting and that’s always key,” Bryant said. “Really I thought it was going to be a see-saw battle with them (CES) judging by how well they played in their first-round win, but we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Batting aside, 4th SOPS’ defense held 50th CES scoreless for the first four innings and set the tone of the game early as Zimmerman and Darren Pearson turned their third double play of the tournament in the first inning.
“Our defense has been solid all year,” Bryant said. “We only need two more wins, so we just need to keep rolling.”