D-M Mustangs end season with a bang

Tucson, Ariz. -- The clang of a metal bat making contact with a baseball is the noise you hear. The anxious body movements of a coach signaling the player's next move is what you see. Who are they you ask?

The Davis-Monthan Mustangs is their name. Baseball is the game.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Mustangs played in the Air Force Bash tournament at Kino Sports Complex. The tournament featured rival teams from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The Air Force Bash is the season ender for the Mustangs who play for several months during the year.

"We play year-round anywhere from 70-95 games," said Jorge Rodriguez, D-M baseball manager. "Primarily, we play local teams in the Tucson Wood Bat League."

The Mustangs are comprised of servicemembers from the 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 355th Civil Engineering Squadron, 355th Equipment Maintenance Squadron and the 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron. Department of Defense civilians as well as dependants are also team members.

The five-game tournament featured the Mustang players exhibiting well-perfected skills and strengths as a team and as individuals.

In Friday's first game, D-M challenged Andrews Air Force Base. Rodriguez, also the Mustangs pitcher, threw for six strong innings while Daniel Ortega, catcher, hit a three-run homer. George Ahboah is credited with the save. D-M won the game, 11-8.

The second game of the day against Tinker Air Force Base proved to be no small feat for D-M. The Mustangs had a few mishaps, and although Timothy Hatcher pitched five scoreless innings, the Mustangs could not pull ahead. Tinker took the game 9-3.

Saturday kicked off the third game for the team as they played Luke Air Force Base. Ahboah pitched relentlessly for seven innings and the powerful hitting performance of the players secured the win for the Mustangs, 12-10.

The Mustangs then faced off with Tinker Air Force Base again later in the day for game four. Rodriguez threw for five innings keeping D-M in the game. Ahboah got the save while Ortega's two-run home run boosted the Mustangs to two ahead of Tinker, taking the game at 12-10.

Sunday's championship game featured the Mustangs against Andrews Air Force Base. In the first inning, Anthony Rieck, shortstop for D-M, struggled on the mound as Andrews jumped ahead 4-1. Rodriguez came in to pitch for the second inning, allowing zero runs for four innings. The fifth inning found Andrews scoring one more run, but in the next few innings the Mustangs came back to take the lead 10-8.

Ahboah took over for Rodriguez when Andrews scored a triple to then tie the game. Due to an error by the Mustangs, Andrews scored a run making the score 11-10.

In the eighth inning of a nine inning game, Hatcher hit a single that allowed Ortega to advance, but was not able to score as the game ended with a final score of 11-10, with Andrews taking the championship.

"It was a great tournament and we showed what D-M baseball is about," said Rodriguez. "Also, taking second place in the Air Force Championship is a great accomplishment."

"Andrews Air Force Base will be hosting next year's tournament and we are hoping for a little more support from the base," he said. "As you can see we have a very good team."

For those interested in joining the D-M Mustangs, e-mail Staff Sgt. Jorge Rodriguez at Jorge.Rodriguez@dm.af.mil.