The GSM Brewers wrapped up their title series against the Saipan Stevedore Yankees in the 2014 Saipan Baseball League, following a thrilling 10-9 win in Game 4 last Friday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Brewers notched their second straight championship, as they also won the 2013 finals against the Fielders. Harry Nakamura made the winning hit, as he came off the bench to replace Vince Cepeda at the top of the batting order at the bottom of the ninth and last inning and blasted a grounder. The ball headed in front of Yankees closer Franco Flores, but he missed it, while shortstop A.J. Lizama tried to dive in to pick up the leather near second base and also faltered. Finally, Yankees second baseman Tom Joab secured the ball, however the two early defensive booboos allowed Byron Kaipat to score the winning run.
Besides recording the winning run, Kaipat earlier nailed an RBI single to bring home pinch runner John Taitano and even up the count, 9-all, with one out. Brewers leadoff batter Roy Celis was called for a strikeout and the Yankees moved one out away from sending Game 4 to extra inning and boosting their chances to force a deciding Game 5 when third batter Manny Sablan flied out to center field and Taitano, who pinched run for the injured Nokki Saralu (hit by pitch), at third. However, the Yankees failed to get the last out, as Flores ended up giving back-to-back singles to Kaipat and Nakamura with the latter helping Taitano reach for the dagger.
The Brewers pulled off the close win despite trailing by three, 6-9, at the top of the seventh inning and losing a 6-4 advantage after six innings. The back-to-back champions scored two runs in the first inning off the Yankees’ errors and four earned runs in the fourth to grab the lead, 6-3. Jun Rabauliman, Diego Camacho, and Saralu had RBI singles at the bottom of the fourth, while Sablan recorded a sacrifice fly. The Yankees, on the other hand got their first three runs off Brian Camacho’s RBI single in the second and two more RBI singles from Lizama and Gary Cruz. Camacho also had an RBI single in the fourth to move the 2012 champions within two and they stole the driver’s seat at the top of the seventh after racking up five runs and shutting down the Brewers in the fifth and sixth. Chris Camacho converted a two-run single at the top seventh, Brian Camacho gained this third RBI single and also stole home, while Joab reached off a sacrifice out from catcher Pat Alepuyo.
At the bottom of the seventh, Manny Sablan kept the Brewers’ title hopes alive when he hit a two-run single that sliced the deficit to one, 8-9. The Yankees clung to the shaky lead after eight innings, as neither team scored. At the top of the ninth, the Yankees were called for a 1-2-3 play with Roy Celis striking out leadoff batter Brian Camacho and Chris Camacho and Joab going out on a 6-3 putout play and fly ball at home plate, respectively. The Yankees eventually lost the precarious lead in the last inning after failing to make the needed defensive stops.
The Game 4 loss came after the Yankees squeezed out a 5-3 victory in Game 3 last Wednesday. The Brewers took the first two matches in the series, winning Game 1 by three runs, 5-2, and cruising to a 7-2 triumph in Game 2.