The Tan Holdings Brewers clinched the first finals berth in the 2012 Saipan Major League Baseball after escaping with a 14-7 win over the hard-luck IT&E-Shell Fielders in the rained-out Game 2 of their semis series last Thursday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
Coming into Thursday's game, the pennant champion Brewers held a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three semis series and were issued the early win at the top of the 11th inning, as heavy rain forced the cancellation of the last inning. The IT&E-Shell Fielders, who bungled a chance to win Game 2 in regulation, conceded the victory after the umpires had a discussion with the respective team managers.
With the series sweep, the Brewers, who recovered from a 1-5 deficit to eke out an 8-6 victory in Game 1, will have to wait for their finals foe, which will be either the defending champion St. Michael's Medical Response Angels or the second ranked-Saipan Stevedore Company Yankees. The Yankees are ahead in the short series, 1-0, and were battling the Angels in last night's Game 2.
Game 2 of the Brewers-Fielders duel had the former's Darren Pua opening with a triple and was grounded in by Clifton Silil in the first inning. The Brewers then spurted ahead in the second frame, 3-0, as Mike Pangelinan and Oliver Secharmedal both made it around off errors.
Brewers' Byron Kaipat drove in Roy Celis in the fourth inning, as their pitcher Tom Camacho kept IT&E-Shell in check for the first five innings.
The third time was a charm for IT&E-Shell, which finally figured Camacho out during its third rotation and managed to snag the lead, 5-4. After going three up and three down four times earlier in the game, IT&E-Shell bashed six hits in the top of the sixth inning, as it went through the lineup. Wenser Namelo bagged an RBI single, Eldred Sanchez provided a two-RBI base knock, and the other runs came off the Brewers errors.
The Brewers then reclaimed the lead, 7-5, in the bottom half of the sixth, primarily from back-to-back doubles by Manny Sablan and Kaipat, who made it home off an error.
The Brewers tapped Camacho at the start of the seventh and called Vince Cepeda to the mound. Cepeda kept IT&E at bay until the last inning of regulation.
A leadoff walk quickly turned into bases loaded with zero outs for IT&E and a big error at first base almost forced a deciding Game 3. The Brewers' Cepeda came back with a strikeout with ducks on the pond, but a wild pitch enabled the first runner to cross the plate.
Then the error at third base tied the game, 7-7, and the IT&E-Shell Fielders perhaps should have left the winning run at third base with just one out. However the tail runner was sent home during the commotion and was instead picked off at the plate by a mile by right fielder Darren Pua, who charged in to assist with the error. A routine grounder to second base that ended the inning would have likely been a walk-off.
In the first extra inning, both teams came up empty before the Brewers uncorked a seven-run tear in the top of the 11th inning.
IT&E came out deflated in the 11th and struggled in throwing strikes and making plays. The Brewers first seven batters all reached and scored off just two hits and to make matters worse for the IT&E-Shell Fielders, rain engulfed the field even before the latter had their turn at bat. The Fielders were just one out from ending the top of the 11th when rain poured.