Bears make playoffs; Falcons stay alive

The Chalan Kanoa Bears’ Angel Palacios practices his swing while waiting for the start of their game against the Blue Jays in the 2017 Saipan Baseball League last Tuesday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The Chalan Kanoa Bears secured the third playoff slot, while the Falcons are still in race for the fourth and last semis ticket in the 2017 Saipan Baseball League after they won the final two games in the regular season.

The defending champion Bears moved to the playoff round following a 16-3 victory over the eliminated Blue Jays last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield. The Bears finished the double-round robin elimination with an 8-6 record for third place in the final team standings behind early semifinalists Go See Mark and the BSI Aces.

The Bears held the Blue Jays to two runs in the first six innings of their make-up game to take the easy win and avoided going through a tiebreaker with Titanium (7-7) and Falcons (7-7) for the battle for the final two semis seats.

The Blue Jays scored the two runs at the bottom of the second inning off a sacrifice fly and Davey Matagolia’s RBI single. Earlier at the top of the second, the Bears also got two runs for a 3-2 advantage and after going scoreless in the next two innings, the defending champions added four for more cushion. The Bears went on to hit the board in the last three innings, going for the kill in the ninth with their five runs behind the two-RBI double of Henry Lizama and Kiku Lizama’s two-RBI single. A.J. Lizama gave the Bears their fifth run in the penultimate inning after he stole home.

A.J. Lizama was only 2-for-5 at bat, but scored four RBIs and three runs in their semis-clinching win. Kiku Lizama hit 4-for-6 and added three runs, while Fred Songao went 3-for-4 and made two runs.

Meanwhile, the Falcons forced a rubbermatch against the Titanium for the fourth and last semis ticket after dominating the D-9ers last Wednesday, 14-4.

Going into the final game of the regular season, the Falcons and Titanium held identical 6-7 records and were put in a must-win situation to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

In the end, the Falcons survived, thanks to a good start. The Falcons scored in the first four innings of the important match, while the D-9ers were held to two runs, allowing the former to control the game and take the win after only eight innings via 10-run mercy rule.

Ian Norita went 2-for-3 for the Falcons in the first four innings and recorded two runs and two RBIs. A.J. Evangelista was only 1-for-3 in from the first to fourth, but contributed two runs, while Francisco Lifoifoi, J.J. Lifoifoi, and Henry Iguel chipped in one run apiece as the Falcons posted a 7-2 advantage at the halfway mark of the game.

Francisco Lieto pitched in no relief for the Falcons and allowed only two hits in the first four innings, while yielding one run to the D-9ers. Overall, he gave up only six hits and two earned runs to help the Falcons remain in contention for the last playoff berth.

The Falcons and Titanium will fight for the final semis ticket tonight with the winner challenging the pennant champion and unbeaten GSM (14-0) in a best-of-three series. The BSI Aces and the Bears will collide in the other Final Four showdown.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for 16 years. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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