The Orioles fell behind from the start, but found a way to past a red-hot Rockies, 8-7, and win the championship in the Saipan Major League Baseball Association/Division of Youth Services' 18U Triple A Championship Youth Baseball League last Saturday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The heavily favored Orioles earned an automatic finals seat after downing the Reds, 8-6, in the upper bracket semifinals and saved face against the upset-minded Rockies with the come-from-behind win. The Orioles are compose of Frankie Camacho, Jake and Jonah Flores, Dave Hosono, A.J. Lizama, Poland Masaharu, Mike Muna, Carlos and Jun Rabauliman, T.J. Sablan, Jake Santos, Gayvan Uchau, and Kenji Yamagata, with manager Walter Macaranas and coach Mark Flores.
The last-seeded Rockies, who kept their title bid alive with a 6-0 win over the Dodgers in the lower bracket elimination match and another shutout victory, 2-0, against the second-ranked Reds in the semifinals, assumed a 2-0 lead in the finals off a sacrifice fly by Ricardo Dela Cruz and an error that enabled Leroy Regis to scamper home after reaching with a one-out base hit.
Orioles' Jun Rabauliman drove in his leadoff man, Jake Flores, in the bottom frame to get a run back, but they were held at second and third base as Rockies' starting pitcher, Regis, battled out of the jam.
Rockies' Jose Lizama drew a one-out walk in the second inning and scored off an error, but Orioles' Flores wiped it away with an RBI single that brought around Dave Hosono. Then the Rockies started the third inning at the top of their lineup and stormed ahead, 6-2, off two hits and some errors. Justin Santos led off the frame and hustled out an error, while Regis followed with a base hit and they both later scored off errors. Dela Cruz also reached on an error and was knocked in by Halstead.
The O's halved the deficit, 3-6, in the bottom portion when Rabauliman led off with a free pass and advanced to third base off a single by T.J. Sablan before sprinting home off a fielder's choice by Frankie Camacho.
The Orioles' Mike Muna came to the mound for Jake Santos to start the fourth inning and the young gun cut through the Rockies' bottom three batters with a pair of fly outs and a grounder to short.
Rockies' Jose Lizama took the ball from Regis earlier in the third inning and ran into some trouble when he came out to start the fourth after containing the O's to just one run earlier during his shift. Lizama got his first man to fly out, but then walked the next three batters, causing Halstead to take the ball in relief.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, their second reliever came in cold and walked the next three batters, forcing yet another substitution. The Rockies' third reliever, Ray Tenorio, found his zone right away and bagged two strikeouts to get the team out of the nightmare inning. However, the damage was already done, as the Rockies essentially gifted the O's the lead, 7-6, in the form of two RBI walks and two runs from a passed ball and a wild pitch.
Now with a one-run lead at the start of the fifth inning, Muna bagged a pair of strikeouts and stranded a man at first base to keep the Rockies at bay. The first three O's batters then safely made it on base, but the Rockies somehow escaped the frame unscathed as their defense threw out the lead runner at third base before Tenorio managed a pair of pop flies.
Muna endured some control issues from the hump and gave up three straight walks, forcing Frankie Camacho to step in and try to work some magic. Camacho got a pop up out of his first man and needed just one more to get away with the lead intact, however Rockies' Santos singled in Paul Celis before being gunned down at second trying to stretch out a double.
Oriole's TJ Sablan started off the bottom frame with a walk and the Rockies' Lizama returned to finish his pitch limit. Lizama gave up two hits right away, the second being the go-ahead single by Kenji Yamagata, which was all the O's needed, as Camacho and his boys whipped up a double play to end the game, 1-2-3.
Though he gave up three walks and essentially blew the lead in the sixth inning, Muna gave up zero hits and struck out three batters in his 2 and 1/3 innings of work in the thick of the match. His entry provided stability in the latter part of the game and Camacho picked up right where he left off for the save.
The Orioles were presented with the perpetual championship trophy during the awards ceremony held after the finals. They finished the regular season with an 11-3 record to top the 4-team field and gain the No. 1 seeding in the playoffs, ahead of the Reds (8-7), Dodgers (7-8), and Rockies (4-11).
Despite placing last in the playoffs, the Rockies went on to eliminate two higher seeded foes and almost pulled off the upset against the favored Orioles if not for a costly defensive breakdown in the bottom of the fourth inning of the finals.