MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and sailors alike gathered behind Goettge Memorial Field House for a weekend of America’s favorite past-time …well kind of.
The 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion “Gators” won the first-ever Midnight Madness softball tournament by beating the Naval Hospital in a closely-contested 4 -3 championship game Saturday afternoon.
The Gators took the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion by surprise in their first-round game with a 12-2 score. They then shut out MARSOC 4-0 and advanced to the championship by beating Supply Battalion 5-2 in the semi-final round.
The Naval Hospital also had a great start, beating the Group Consolidated Administration Center 20-7. Hospital’s defense kept Special Missions Training Center scoreless in its second-round 7-0 win. In the semi-finals, Hospital beat 2nd Tank Battalion 8-1.
In the final game, Naval Hospital looked as though it had the championship all stitched up with a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth. A scene reminiscent of Buckner’s 1986 World Series snafu, the Hospital’s catcher let the ball roll between his legs and two runs scored for the Gators.
After the champions received their awards, Gators’ left fielder, Donnie Thompson said, “We worked real hard for this, we suffered through the heat and the bugs to make day practices, so we deserve this win.”
Not only do these teams get a great sense of satisfaction from competing in tournaments such as this, but they also gain camaraderie. Thompson said the tournaments give players the opportunity to build morale by looking at how other teams play together.
Antonio Warner, the intramural sports coordinator for Camp Lejeune said, “Anything you do for the Marines and sailors on Camp Lejeune is great because they’re in dire need to do something different and get out of the mundane life that goes on around here.”
Midnight Madness gave the intramural teams from the two leagues an opportunity to play one another because there is no pre-season intra-league schedule. Due to ongoing deployments, only 15 of the 21 intramural teams were able to participate in the tournament.
Warner said his main goal for next year’s tournament will be to gain more support from all the command elements with teams in the intramural leagues.