Defending champions Brewers met a tougher competitor in their second game in the 2014 Saipan Baseball League, pulling off 9-7 victory over the Tigers last Monday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
After coasting to a 22-2 win over the Fielders in the league’s opener late last month, the Brewers had to labor for their second triumph and leaned on Vince Cepeda’s steady pitching in the last 2.1 innings to thwart the debuting Tigers. Cepeda gave up no hits and sixth strikeouts to tame the Tigers.
Cepeda was the Brewers third pitcher, coming in for Elton Santos, who allowed a two-RBI single to Palmerson Monkeya at the top of the seventh inning. With the two runs, the Tigers threatened the defending champions with only one out and the bases loaded. However, the three runners were stranded, as Cepeda struck out McGary Sebaklim for the second out and Mark Flores was beaten to second base.
Cepeda went on to gain five more strikeouts, booting out the Tigers’ first three batters in the eighth inning and the first two in the ninth and last, which ended after right fielder Kaigel Taitano caught a fly ball from third batter Phil Celis.
While Cepeda took care of the Brewers’ defense, third baseman Nokki Saralu was the defending champions’ main man on offense. Saralu went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored three RBIs and one run. Starting catcher Jun Rabauliman added two RBIs off a 2-for-5 performance at bat.
Saralu’s sacrifice fly that brought Tyrone Omar home put the Brewers on the board, while Rabauliman made it a 2-0 lead with his RBI double. The Brewers tucked on one more run in the second inning off Omar’s RBI single, while the Tigers failed to score in the first three innings with Ton Camacho pitching for the defending champions.
Camacho pitched four innings and after giving up three earned runs in the bottom of the fourth, he was relieved by Santos. Santos came in after Tigers stole the lead, 4-3, off Mark Toves’ two-RBI single, Mabel Ngirmelas’ RBI single, and a Brewers’ error at left field with two outs. Brewers centerfielder Lenny Sablan caught a fly ball to end the Tigers’ rally.
The Brewers then regained the upper hand quickly with Saralu’s two-RBI single at the bottom fourth and an RBI double from Ton Leon Guerrero. The defending champions added three more runs in the last four innings, but could not put away the Tigers for good, as the latter also scored three runs. The Atty. O’Conner-backed Tigers got one run from Mark Flores in the sixth off Toves’ sacrifice fly and two in seventh from Monkeya’s two-RBI single to remain in contention, but lost their debut eventually with Cepeda taking over the mound and shutting out their foes.