HAGATNA, Guam-The CNMI Senior All-Stars fell short in its must-win match against eventual champion New Zealand, 2-1, as the 2012 Senior League Asia-Pacific Regional Tournament concluded yesterday at the Paseo Stadium.
New Zealand absorbed its lone loss to host Guam last Saturday, but won its other four games to finish the round of pool play with the best record.
The Kiwis advanced to the Senior League Baseball World Series this August in Bangor, Maine as the Asia-Pacific Regional Tournament champions. The CNMI finished with a win-loss record of 3-2.
Host team Guam, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and China (1-4) make up the rest of the field.
New Zealand managed an early run in the opening frame from Kelloa Wehal and an error, but the CNMI buckled down on defense through the thick of the match.
The match was a pitching duel between New Zealand ace Jerome Ritchie and the CNMI's A.J. Lizama.
Ritchie got out of a jam in the bottom frame and left the CNMI with two men stranded, but Lizama notched his fifth strikeout in the top half of the second inning. Ritchie answered with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom side
Lizama echoed his call in the top of the third, after which Ritchie and his crew held strong against the CNMI's top of the lineup.
Both teams executed impressively both on the mound and out in the field as hits came at a premium in the standoff, but New Zealand grinded out its second run in the fifth inning thanks to a leadoff double to leftfield by Ham Witters. He was driven to the plate by Sam Clerk.
New Zealand's Ritchie stuffed the CNMI's top of the order again in the sixth inning and held them to just one run in the final stand.
Jun Rabauliman ripped a single to left and stole two bases before scoring off an error, and Frankie Camacho made it all the way to third base, but the guys could not get the tying run to the plate.
Cedric Ada and Khobby Kaipat managed to put the ball in play, but were gobbled up by New Zealand's infield.
Winning pitcher Ritchie went the distance and gave up one unearned run off seven hits with two strikeouts. He issued zero walks and canned nine put outs.
The CNMI's Lizama gave up an earned run off six hits, a walk, hit two batsmen along with nine strikeouts through seven frames.
CNMI leadoff batter Lancaster Secharmidal batted 3-for-3 and made it to third base in the first inning, but was caught in the path twice in the game.
The CNMI Big Leaguers, meanwhile, are also in the U.S. territory and took on achrival Guam in another must-win match to force a three-way tie in the division standings. The Philippines (2-2) is in third place in the three-team field.
The Philippines defeated Guam (2-1), 7-4, yesterday, while the CNMI (1-2) was on a bye.
In event of a tie, the team with the lowest runs allowed average will be declared the winner. The CNMI therefore needs to keep the score low as the total runs allowed of each team gets divided by the total number of defensive innings.
The results of yesterday's Big League regional tournament will be released tomorrow.