Saipan Baseball League welcomes the proposed new schedule for the CNMI-hosted Pacific Mini Games.
SBL official Rose Igitol said they see no conflict with the suggested new date (summer of 2022) for the quadrennial competition since baseball is not included on the sports program for the next Micronesian Games that will also take place in 2022 in the Marshall Islands.
The CNMI Pacific Mini Games Oversight Committee proposed the new date in response to the Pacific Games Council’s request to consider making changes in the schedule to avoid clashing with the Tokyo Olympic Games. Initially, the Mini Games was to be held next year, while the Tokyo Olympics was originally slated for this August before it was moved to 2021 (July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021) due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It (new date) will not affect baseball at all. We will participate in the Mini Games in 2022,” said Igitol.
The last time the CNMI fielded a baseball team in the Pacific Games Council-sanctioned event, the Commonwealth brought home a gold medal. The Tony Rogolifoi-managed squad topped the 2011 Pacific Games held in New Caledonia after beating rival Guam in the finals, 8-4.
Northern Mariana Sports Association Male Athlete of the Year Joshua Jones led the gold-medal winning squad, giving up only one run when he pitched against Guam in the finals. Jones and company came from behind to rule the competition, as they had to slip past New Caledonia, 11-5, and Palau, 8-0, in the playoffs to arrange a finals duel against Guam. Jones closed out for the CNMI in those last three games and left a mark in the Pacific Games after working the mound in 31 innings, yielding less than 10 hits, and posting more than 30 strikeouts.
Joining Jones on the gold medal team were Eric Tenorio, Ian Rogolifoi, Keoni Lizama, Mike Iguel, Vince Cepeda, Tyrone Omar, Franco Flores, Thomas Joab, Jerome Delos Santos, Byron Kaipat, Manny Sablan, Craig Sanchez, Elton Santos, and Juan Maratita.
Meanwhile, though baseball won’t be affected by the date changes, SBL said other sports that will also compete in the 2022 Micronesian Games may have issues with the proposed new Mini Games schedule. The 2022 Micro Games is to take place from July 10 to Aug. 6, according to the Marshall Islands’ winning bid.
Athletics, basketball, volleyball (beach and indoor), fast-pitch softball, lawn tennis, Micro All-Around, spear fishing, swimming, table tennis, and va’a are the proposed sports for the Micro Games, while besides baseball, the Mini Games will feature five other events—beach athletics, triathlon, beach volleyball, golf, and badminton. Lawn tennis and weightlifting are also being considered for the Mini Games 2022.