The Aces gained two consecutive victories in the Saipan Major League Baseball Association to keep pace with the frontrunners in the seven-team field.
The Aces lit up the Saipan Stevedore Yankees, 9-2, on Monday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield and survived the defending champion St. Michael's Medical Response Angels (7-5), 4-2, in a 12-inning ordeal on July 16 to improve to an 8-3 record and retain the No. 3 spot in the team standings. The Aces are behind the Saipan Stevedore Yankees (9-2) and Tan Holdings Brewers (8-2).
The Brewers (8-2) preserved their half game lead over the Aces after a 17-1 victory over Rep. Ray Yumul D-9ers (1-10) in seven frames last Tuesday.
Completing the field are the IP&E-Shell Fielders (5-6) and the Rep. Sylvester Iguel Masters (1-11).
Aces 9, Yankees 2
Aces' hurler Ben Taisacan stymied the Yankees from the rubber for four innings, while his teammates finally broke the ice for a 3-0 favor in the fourth frame.
The Aces' Juan Iguel led off with a double and was driven to the plate by Juan Maratita, while Nokki Saralu drew a walk and snuck around off an infield error.
The Yankees' Frank Robert answered with an RBI single in the top half of the fifth, but the Aces motored ahead, 7-1, in the bottom portion, The Aces loaded the bases right away, forcing Yankees' JP Camacho to relieve starter Dave Camacho. After Maratita stung the Yankees with an RBI base poke, the pitching switch did not work, as Taisacan this time connected on an RBI knock and the Aces scored two more runs off sketchy pitches and an error.
Taisacan remained in control and had plenty of gas in the tank and his teammates complemented his effort with a pair of insurance runs in the seventh inning. JD Dikito tripled home the workhorse pitcher and scored off a sacrifice fly from Derek Aughenbaugh.
Taisacan then held the Yankees to just one run in the final stand. He went all nine and gave up zero earned runs off six hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Taisacan also forced 11 putouts and seven groundouts.
Juan Iguel swung 5-for-5 with two runs and two stolen bases for the Aces, while Maratita went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs, a stolen base, and a base on balls. Robert batted 2-for-3 with an RBI and Gary Cruz also bashed two hits for the Yankees.
Aces 4, Angels 2
The Aces' defense blinked first in the bottom of the fourth inning, allowing the Angels to take a 1-0 edge. Franco Flores led off with a hit and found his way home off an error.
Aces' speedster Jesus Iguel then hustled out an error in the top of the fifth and was escorted to the plate via a sacrifice fly from Nokki Saralu. The Angels' Nunu Kapileo countered in the bottom frame with an RBI single that brought in Jay Camacho to recapture the lead, 2-1.
The Aces were stuffed with two runners on base in the sixth, but managed to knot the score up at 2-all in the seventh inning off some costly infield errors.
The chess match continued through regulation and both pitchers show life in their arms in the late innings. They were rewarded with improved defense as the game went into extra innings, but eventually someone had to be declared the winner.
The Aces' top of the order bashed three big hits to start the 12th inning, took the lead, and held strong on the field for the final three outs. The Aces' Jesus Iguel led off the inning with a hit and was doubled to the dish by Maratita, who then scored off Taisacan's double.
As for the Angels offense, they had two men on the path in the final stand, but could not bring them to the plate.
Winning pitcher Juan Iguel gave up one earned run off nine hits, three walks, and a hit batsman with three strikeouts in 12 innings. Jesus Iguel scored three runs.
Brewers 17, D-9ers 1
The D-9ers held the Brewers to just a run in the first two innings, but the latter started the third with a five-run gash off four hits for the breakaway. Darren Pua cracked a two-RBI single and later scored off a passed ball, while Manny Sablan also grounded in a run.
The D-9ers' lone run came in the bottom portion when BJ Lizama drove in Derek Sablan.
The Brewers then trotted ahead, 10-1, in the fourth inning off three hits, an error and a fake tag violation. RBI leader Byron Kaipat belted an RBI double and teammate Mike Pangelinan hit an RBI single in the mix.
The Brewers added four more runs in the sixth inning, primarily off errors by a ruffled D-9ers clan. Ton Manibusan was credited with an RBI in the mess and the D-9ers went 1-2-3 in the bottom side.
Three more runs would be added to the Brewers in the top of the sixth and despite their big lead, the run-rule could not be implemented unless seven innings were completed. The Brewers' Kaipat then logged another RBI double and Sablan picked up a two-RBI base rip in what were essentially bonus at bats in the top of the seventh. The D-9ers loaded the bases in the final stand, but Brewers' closer Vince Cepeda eventually settled down and left them there for the save.
Winning pitcher Tom Camacho gave up just one earned run off six hits, a walk, and a hit batsman with five strikeouts through six innings.