The Orioles outlasted the Reds, 5-1, during their game in the Saipan Major League Baseball Association/Division of Youth Services-18U Triple A Championship Youth Baseball League last Thursday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Orioles improved to a league-best 10-13 record, creating more distance against their closest pursuer, the Reds, who dropped to an 8-6 slate.
Reds' Kainoa Wanket snuck on to first base off a dropped third strike and managed to cross home off an error at second base in the opening frame, but they ran into a wall at the plate for the next four frames.
Wanket was also the Reds' starting pitcher and helped preserve the margin for three innings before Keene Guerrero came in at the start of the fourth exchange. Wanket left the O's with man at second base at the start of the game and his teammates turned a nice double play in the second inning. He then bagged two strikeouts and denied the rival squad access past first base before his exit.
As for the Orioles, they settled down quickly on defense after the early blip as their starting pitcher, Jake Santos, dialed in two 1-2-3 innings to keep the group in pursuit.
Guerrero started strong and forced a three up and three down inning to close the top half of the fourth, however Orioles' reliever, Mike Muna, took the ball in the bottom frame and answered with a clean run, also through just three batters. The Reds' Peter Lieto then led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a base hit, but was caught trying to steal third base during the third batter's plate appearance.
Then in the top of the fifth inning, Orioles' Gayvan Uchau belted a one-out single and scored off a passed ball to knot the match at 1-all, forcing Lieto to take over at the mound. Lieto's first man, Dave Hosono, reached on a fielder's choice and also went on to touch home, scoring off a passed ball, as the former struggled to find his zone.
Lieto hung tough, however, and left the O's with a man at second base, but Muna cut through the bottom trio of the Reds lineup in the bottom frame.
Lieto then fanned three batters and stranded a man at third base in the top of the sixth, but Muna stood tall again on the mound and put the Orioles three outs away from victory.
Later in the top of the seventh inning, Guerrero was called back to the mound with one out and a man at first base, as Lieto exceeded his pitch count, and the Orioles worked a walk before stringing together three base smashes that brought around the insurance.
The Orioles' thick of the order, made up of Frankie Camacho, Jun Rabauliman, and A.J. Lizama jacked the singles with the latter benefiting in the form of two RBIs.
Notably, the Orioles' Carlos Rabauliman scored earlier in the frame off a wild throw from third base, which may have also played a role in the wheels coming off for the Reds.
In the end, Orioles' closer, Lizama, secured the save with proficiency and bagged two ground outs before his teammates caught the last man in the path.
Kudos to the Orioles' defense for buying their offense some time. All the O's' six hits came in the last three innings, which fortunately for them came packaged with some passed balls and untimely errors.
The Reds were limited to just three hits and managed only four additional runners via errors or bases on balls. However, of the seven total base runners, three were caught out in the path, which caused twice as many abrupt stops.
Meanwhile, the Reds look to rebound against the third place Dodgers (5-6) today at 4pm, while the Rockies (2-10) square off against the Orioles at 6pm.
In related news, league organizers have reduced the original game schedule to give coaches and players time to prepare for the 2013 Little League Baseball, Inc. season. The slight adjustment reduced the total games per team from 21 to 18. Organizers also recently met with coaches and agreed to utilize a Page System playoff format, which is set to start on Oct. 20. This leaves eight matches left in the regular season.