The Saipan Stevedore Co.-Northern Yankees and IP&E Shell Fielders eked out close wins against separate opponents in this week's Saipan Major League matchups at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Yankees outlasted St. Michael's Medical Response Angels, 10-8, on Wednesday, while IP&E Shell's pitcher Brandon Santos preserved a five-run lead from the first inning and held off the Tan Holdings Brewers, 9-8.
As a result, the Yankees (7-1) moved into solo first place in the standings in front of the Brewers (6-2), the Aces (6-3), and defending champion Angels (5-4), while IP&E-Shell nabbed a big win on the bubble and evened its slate to 5-5. The Rep. Sylvester Iguel-Masters (1-7) and Rep. Ray Yumul D-9ers (0-8) are already out of the postseason race.
The season continues at Tan Ko field on Monday at 6:30pm with the Angels colliding with the Aces.
Fielders 9, Brewers 8
IP&E-Shell Fielders came out on top of what was a rough start for both teams and mounted a 9-4 lead in the first inning off just three hits.
Early errors in the field allowed the first run to the plate and a base hit and a bean ball set up a two-RBI single for Wenser Namelo.
IP&E-Shell went on to load the bases and brought home two more runs thanks to a defensive breakdown by the Brewers.
IP&E-Shell's leadoff man Anthony Tenorio bagged an RBI single in his second at bat and, after an RBI walk, Brandon Santos cleared the bases with a deep shot, but was nailed out at the plate for third out.
Santos was called to the mound earlier in the top portion and went on to help close all but one out in the game.
He gave up three unearned runs through the first five innings to keep his team in the driver's seat, 9-6.
The Brewers stirred up some trouble in the sixth inning from a leadoff walk that scored off an error and an RBI walk with the bases loaded, Santos got out of the jam and fended the former co-frontrunners in the last three frames.
He gave up just one earned run through eight and 2/3 innings off nine hits and 11 walks with five strikeouts.
IP&E-Shell's Tenorio batted 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Brewers' Anthony Guerrero swung 4-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base, while teammate Byron Kaipat went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run, two bases on balls, and a stolen base.
Yankees 10, Angels 8
The Angels worked out an early 2-0 lead off a double by Nunu Kapileo in the first inning and an RBI single by Jay Camacho in the second frame, but the Yankees surged in front, 3-2, in the third inning off three hits and a couple of errors. John Salas cracked a two-RBI smash and scored off a wild throw.
The Yankees added two runs in the fourth inning off an early error and an RBI triple by Jerome Delos Santos, who scored soon after off a bobbled ball up the middle.
Yankees' Greg Iskawa then drove in Chris Camacho in the top of the fifth inning to make it a 6-2 score, but the Angels tied it up in the bottom frame.
Yankees starting pitcher Bobby Castro made it through four innings before running into trouble at the start of the fifth frame.
He was relieved by J.P. Sablan after the Angles bashed four hits to start the side. Marvin Kaipat bagged a two-RBI single in the mix and two other runs scored after the change from an error and a base knock by T.J. Cruz.
The Yankees stranded a man at third base in the top of the sixth inning, but escaped the bottom frame with ducks on the pond and reclaimed the lead, 8-6, in the seventh thanks to a leadoff walk followed by a home run by Tom Agulto.
The Angels got out of the inning with runners at second and third base and kept the Yankees at bay in the eighth frame, but in the end the Yankees added two big runs in the top of the ninth off wild throws and held strong against the Angels in the final stand. Dave Jones came to the mound in the inning and secured the save.
Yankees' Delos Santos scored three times and stole a base, while Salas batted 3-for-5 with two RBIs, a run, and three stolen bases. Angels' Jay Camacho swung 4-for-5 with an RBI, a run, and two stolen bases. Angels' John Reyes went 3-for-5 with three runs and a stolen base.