An eight-run eighth inning barrage coupled by consecutive defensive plays in the top of the ninth handed manager Doru Camacho his first championship in the major league as the boys from Tanapag swept the Bob O’Connor backed Saipan Masters last Friday.
The Falcons rallied from a seven-run deficit to squeeze out a 10-9 triumph over the unheralded Masters in Friday’s nights Game 3 of the Budweiser-Saipan Major League championship series at the Francisco M. Palacios Baseball Field.
The Tanapag-based squad cut short the best-of-five title series as they scored a three-game sweep of the Masters, which two weeks ago captured the silver in the Guam Masters Baseball Tournament on Guam.
The Falcons scored one of CNMI baseballs improbable come back win rallying back from a seven run deficit to complete their own Cinderella finish in the annual league.
Trailing 9-2 after 7 1/2 innings, the Falcons scored eight runs in the bottom of the eighth then let Patrick Blas and the Tanapag defense do its job in the top of the ninth to foil the Masters’ bid of extending the title series.
Dwight Quitano had a lead off walk in the bottom of the eighth, moved to second on a Masters throwing error and scored on a J.R. Suel single that started the Faclons’ come-from-behind triumph.
Suel advanced to second on another Masters error and was stranded for a while after right fielder Sato Manalo had an infield fly. Ned Norita singled to left to move Suel to third while he advanced to second base on another single by designated hitter Mike Pangelinan.
J.D. Dikito then came up to bat and the Falcons shortstop ripped one deep at right center field, which Masters center fielder Dave Kapileo tried to catch. As the ball dropped the Falcons had three runners touching home plate while Dikito’s right foot had already touched safely on third base.
Dikito’s bases-clearing triple sent the pro-Falcon crowd into frenzy as they only trail the Masters by three runs, 9-6, and with still only one out in the same inning.
Masters manager Tony Rogolifoi saw enough and opted to replace starter Tony Camacho with veteran Mel Sakisat, who played the hero’s role in their march into the finals.
But the pitching change did not deter the Falcons’ hitting as Jordan Suel had an RBI-single to let Dikito score the Falcons’ fifth run.
Consecutive errors by the Masters, their fifth in the game, sent Suel 90-feet away from home plate.
B.J. “Boomer” Sablan then sent Sakisat’s fourth pitch to left-center with his grounder sailing past the glove of Masters shortstop Reno Celis as Suel scored for a 9-8 count.
Sablan stole second while a Sakisat pitch hit Henry Iguel as the Falcons put another runner on base. Quitano singled to load up the bases while Suel, who was named the finals most valuable player, singled to let Sablan touch home plate that tied the score at 9-9.
Iguel scored the go ahead run for the Falcons on a Manalo sacrifice grounder. Manalo was tagged out on a 4-3 putout play for the second out.
Norita closed out the inning when Sakisat forced him to an infield fly and Masters second baseman Jess Mesa making the catch for the third out.
Feeling that they are three outs away from the title, Blas and the Falcons defense – including a ninth-inning double play – bring it up a notch in the ninth inning.
Blas gave up a lead off single to Mesa then forced Ben Mesa to ground out. Falcons’ shortstop Dikito picked up the grounder and threw the ball to second baseman Quitano for the first half of the double play. Quitano then made the relay throw to first baseman Sablan as Ben Mesa failed to beat the tag for the second out.
The Masters were still into the game when Blas gave up a double to Kapileo. But that proved to be the Masters final hit as Blas forced Mike Muna to an infield fly with Norita jumping high to catch the ball to end the game.
Blas pitched three shutout innings after letting the Masters score four runs from the third to the sixth shutting down their offense. He pitched eight innings of relief giving up seven hits while striking out four and walking another four batters.
“Boomer” Sablan went 3-for-4 and was a home run shy of making the cycle. He led off the third with a double, had a triple in the seventh before closing out with a single in the eighth. He also had two RBIs.
Dikito, despite, going 1-for-4, had three RBIs with his bases-clearing triple in the eighth. Pangelinan and J.R. Suel, who also had two RBIs, combined for 4-for-8 in batting.