After clawing their way back from a 2-4 record in the regular season, the pennant-winning Rep. Dave Apatang Hustlers needed only two games to sweep Speaker Fitial Pirates in the first round of the Saipan Major League’s fall edition playoffs on Saturday at the Francisco M. Palacios Baseball Field.
Led by the bat of Jonathan Delos Santos and the arm of Jonathan Camacho, the Hustlers smothered the Pirates beneath 11 runs to force the invocation of the 10-run mercy rule.
Camacho paved the way to the finals with seven strikeouts, and didn’t allow a run in the contest. The hurler yielded just three hits while atop the mound, and went 2-for-4 at the plate with a single and a double to help lead his squad to the championship.
Delos Santos provided for most of the offense in the quest for a repeat, as he went 4-for-5 at the plate with three singles, a double, and four scores, while teammate Byron Kaipat went 3-for-5 with a trio of base knocks and a score.
The Hustlers racked up 16 hits off of Pirates pitching, including a five-run fourth inning in which Delos Santos, A.J. Allen, Kaipat, James Villacrusis, and Jester Garcia crossed the plate.
With the win, the Hustlers team has some time to rest up for a playoff stretch that has forced them to win their final games of the season and a tiebreaker with the Kautz Glass Glazers for the pennant.
The defending champs will have to wait until next week before they know who they’ll be facing in the championships, because the Heinz & David North Stars smashed the Kautz Glass Glazers 8-1 to tie the best-of-three series at a game apiece.
Pitcher Jonathan Tenorio pitched a gem for the Stars, allowing only one run before being relieved in the top of the eighth by teammate Ricky Jones. Jones recorded a pair of strikeouts and a walk in his two innings atop the mound to finish what Tenorio started three hours earlier.
North Stars have relied on Tenorio pitching abilities all season long, and with the week between the rubber- match, they may look to him once again. If not, Brandon Santos is more than willing to pick up the slack on the mound.
While Tenorio and Jones took care of the defense, Clifton Silil and Robert Bansil handled the offense. Silil went 2-for-4 with a score, a single and a triple, while Bansil also went 2-for-4, knocked a pair of singles and crossed the plate twice for two scores.
The North Stars and the Glazers will play the deciding Game 3 next weekend at Palacios Field at 10am.