CNMI’s All-Star team heads to the World Series next month after defeating Palau’s All-Star 10-1 during the championship of the 1999 Far-East Big League Baseball tournament held in Koror recently.
At the jampacked Asahi Stadium in Palau, Jeff Cruz pitched 4 1/2 innings, gave up 2 hits, struck out 6, including the final out, while iron arm Robert Bansil provided the arsenal attack behind the plate, gunning down the only 2 base runners from Palau who attempted a steal.
Jerome Delos Santos and Jester Garcia led the balanced CNMI squad with 2 hits a piece.
The game was cut short due to the 10-run mercy rule.
In the opening game Thursday night, CNMI edged team Guam 4-3 in a game cut short by the regulation 4 1/2 innings due to heavy rains.
Tito Santos, Jr. was too much for team Guam on the mound as he struck out 5 batters while giving up 4 hits. Teammate Delos Santos blasted a triple and a long single of Guam SPG standout Ryan McIntosh also scored twice in the winning effort.
Following their win over Guam, CNMI came back on Friday to defeat Palau 3-2 behind Josh Muna’s 7 strong innings, gave up 4 hits, struck out 9, as they led 3-1 in the bottom of 7th.
A lead off triple by Palau and a routine grounder scored Palau’s second run with the tying run over at second. All CNMI did is team support and basically that’s what happened as Muna struck out the next batter, checked one batter on a routine grounder and the sweet memories came on the hands of “Mr. Slick”, Jester Garcia, who waited patiently on a soft pop up and jumped at it with two hands to secure the ball and the victory for the CNMI.
This will be the third straight year for the CNMI to be in the Big League World Series and definitely it is a charmed one as both CNMI and Palau were underdogs in this tournament.
The World Series will be held in Tucson, Arizona starting August 8 through the 14, the first time the tournament will be held outside Floyd Hull Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the game has been played in the past 30 years.
Manager Tino Camacho, head coach Frankie Torres and assistant coach Jerome Salas said teamwork was the key to the CNMI squad’s victory.