Saipan Stevedore Company Yankees took the championship after prevailing over pennant winner Tan Holdings Brewers, 10-5, in Game 5 of the Saipan Major League Baseball Association title series Monday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The team is comprised of Tom Agulto, Robert Bansil, Chris, Dave and Greg Camacho, Jerome Delos Santos, Patrick Guerrero, Greg Iskawa, Ben Jones Jr., Joshua Jones, Frank Robert, J.P. Sablan, and Jonathan Tenorio with player-coach Mel Sakisat and SMLBA's first-ever female manager Raena Camacho.
“My first managing experience was very exciting and I was speechless after [Monday's] game. I want to thank the players for helping me get accustomed to being a team manager. A great deal of thanks also goes to their families and all of the San Roque fans for their support. We also want to extend out gratitude to our sponsor Saipan Stevedore Company and Rep. Ray Yumul,” said manager Camacho after the game.
The group plans to stay together to defend its title next year and is setting a goal to nab the pennant championship in the process.
The Yankees finished the regular season in second place behind the Brewers and went through defending champion St. Michael's Medical Response Angels in the playoffs before coming out on top over the favored Brewers. Its rivals, however, proved to be no slouch.
Leading up to Monday's finale, the Yankees dropped two games after taking the first meeting, 7-5, and held off the Brewers in the fourth match to stay alive.
The Brew crew capped a pair of strong wins, 10-5 and 11-5, but then spoiled a good opportunity to end it in Game 4.
The Yankees held on and survived the must-win match, 4-3, to force Monday's do-or-die finals meeting.
Yankees 10, Brewers 5
The Brewers worked out an early 2-1 lead after the opening frame off three hits.
Clifton Silil led off the game with a double and was driven to the plate by Darren Pua who was then doubled home by Manny Sablan.
The Yankees got a run back in the bottom frame from Robert Bansil's RBI single that scored Pat Guerrero, but the count then shifted to 3-2 as both teams traded a run in the second inning.
Brewers' Pua doubled in Ton Guerrero in the top side, while the Yankees weaseled out a run in the bottom portion of an error.
The scoreboard later read, 4-3, in favor of the Brewers after both squads managed to bring around a run in the fourth inning.
Brewers' Kagel Taitano reached on a fielder's choice and snuck home off errors, while Yankees' Greg Iskawa drove in Dave Camacho in the bottom half.
The Yankees then tapped Camacho to relieve starting pitcher J.P. Sablan at the start of the fifth inning and he left the Brewers with a runner at third base.
The Yankees started the bottom frame at the top of its lineup and moved ahead, 5-4, off three hits; Jerome Delos Santos singled on and scored off and error and Chris Camacho escorted Bansil to the plate with a base rip.
Yankees' Camacho struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning and his teammate Delos Santos obliged with sacrifice fly in the bottom frame that granted passage for Frank Robert.
The seventh inning may have been the turning point of the game as two Brewers base runners were caught stealing, which wrecked what was a good opportunity to mount a comeback.
Brewers' Silil led off the inning with a walk and made it home off an error after a fielder's choice by Pua and a base knock by Roy Celis.
Manny Sablan then stepped into the box with one out, but did not get a chance to swing the bat as the aforementioned pair caused an abrupt end to the inning.
Though it was still a one-run game, 6-5, the Brewers appeared deflated from that point in the match and gave up four runs off four hits in the eighth inning.
The Yankees boarded a pair of runners off a hit and an error and Guerrero drove in Ben Jones. Jr. to keep it rolling.
Bansil then drew a walk to load the bases and Brewers' starter Tom Camacho was roughed up by Greg Camacho's RBI single and a two-RBI base smash by Chris Camacho before Brewers skipper Tony Rogolifoi finally went out the mound to take the ball from his man.
Brewers' Celis stepped to the rubber and got out of the jam, but the damage was already done and Yankees' Camacho held strong on the hump through the late innings.
Yankees' Chris Camacho batted 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Bansil and Guerrero both went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two runs, and a base on balls. Delos Santos and Dave Camacho each scored twice and Iskawa batted 3-for-5, while Brewers' John Taitano swung 2-for-3 and Pua went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run.
Jones Jr. is MVP
After the game, Yankees' Ben Jones Jr. was chosen as the league's most valuable player.
The star centerfielder was also selected as a Gold Glove winner along with second baseman Chris Camacho.
Notably, Jones Jr. and IT&E Fielders' Anthony Tenorio shined the brightest in the awards ceremony.
The pair finished the season tied for most runs scored (18) and most triples (3), while Tenorio shared top honors for most doubles (5) with Brewers' Roy Celis.
Honorable mention, however, went out to Angels pitcher Manny Cabrera, who was selected as the Rookie of the Year for his impressive performance on the mound, where he maintained a 0.40 earned run average through 22 innings, topping the category.
In addition, Yankees' lefty Joshua Jones was hailed as the league strikeout king (62), while home run honors were split between IT&E Fielders' Brandon Santos and the Yankees duo of Jerome Delos Santos and Tom Agulto; the trio each hit one apiece.
Angels' John Reyes won the batting crown (0.513), while Brewers' Byron Kaipat led the league in runs batted in (16).
The awards presentation concluded with the Yankees being presented with their individual championship trophies. The group also learned that its team name would be inscribed on the SMLBA's new perpetual championship trophy.
The Yankees also received regular season runner-up honors, while the Brewers were presented with the pennant and runner up spoils.