Last year’s finalists Aces and Falcons will have an early rematch as they open the 2018 Saipan Baseball League season on Monday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” M. Palacios Ballfield.
Best Sunshine Inc. is the sponsor of the defending champions Aces, who will be handled by player/coach Luis Iguel, while the Natibu Sports Association supports the Doru Camacho-managed Falcons. The Aces defeated the Falcons, 3-1, in their best-of-five title series last year, securing the championship with a 2-1 decision in Game 4. The Aces won Games 1 (9-3) and 3 (13-9), while the Falcons were victorious in Game 2 (12-8).
Right after the Aces-Falcons rematch, the Tan Siu Lin Foundationbacked Blue Jays of manager Froilan Tenorio will take the field when it faces the Outlaws of Manny Salas on Tuesday. The remaining games in the opening week will be released later, as SBL coordinator Tony Rogolifoi is still finalizing the entire schedule of the season, which he expects to finish early.
“Everything is ready. The games will be everyday so we expect to have a quick season. We want to finish early so the CNMI baseball team that will compete in the  Micronesian Games will have enough time to practice,” he said.
Rogolifoi added that in case the season takes time to complete, they will have to temporarily suspend the games and resume them after the CNMI national team returns from Yap, which will be hosting the quadrennial sporting event from July 15 to 28.
“We are hoping the weather would fully cooperate so we don’t have any rain delays or cancelled games. It’s the dry season, so we’re going to fully take advantage of the sunny weather,” Rogolifoi added.
SBL games, which will be played from Monday thru Friday starting at 6:30pm, also return to the nine-inning format. The league earlier had its Masters and Under 25 divisions played in only seven innings.
The island’s premier baseball league will have 10 teams. The Ballistics of manager Jay Camacho is the last squad to enter the 2018 competition and one of the three new teams in the field, joining the Ed Cepeda-handled Outlaws and the Mariners of Shine Tenorio. The C.K. Bears (Rep. J.P. Sablan), D9ers (Saipan Stevedores), Go See Mark (Mark Sablan), and Titanium (Senate President Arnold I. Palacios), are the other competing teams.