The Chalan Kanoa Bears finished the regular season of the 2016 Saipan Baseball League with an unblemished record following a tough 5-4 victory over the BSI Aces last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Bears capped the double-round robin elimination with a 14-0 mark, while the BSI Aces ended up with an 8-6 mark for the tie for third to fourth place with the Falcons. With the Bears’ victory, the Aces and the Falcons must wait for the results of the Titanium (7-6) and Yankees (4-9) tiff to determine their Final Four chances.
The Titanium-Yankees game was played last night and results were unavailable at press time. A Titanium win will create a three-way tie for the two remaining semis berths. In this case, the team with the best record (head-to-head) among the three will get the third Final Four ticket, while the two remaining squads will duke it out for the fourth and last semis slot. A Titanium loss will automatically give the BSI Aces and the Falcons the semis seats.
The BSI Aces missed on their bid to move into the semis outright and join the top-seeded Bears and the defending champions GSM Brewers to the playoffs, no thanks to Jose Lizama Jr. and the pennant champions defense in the last inning.
Jose Lizama, who was on his first at bat as he worked the mound in the first six innings, made the go-ahead hit at the bottom of the eighth where the Bears scored two runs to boost their chances for a perfect record in the regular season. The Bears came into the eighth down, 3-4. Marvin Kaipat then tied the match as his single drove Jerome Delos Santos home with only one out.
Kaipat, after his RBI single, moved to second and third off the BSI Aces’ errors and later made it home off Jose Lizama Jr.’s base hit to put the Bears on top. The Bears next two batters went down on a fly out to second and strikeout, giving the BSI Aces the chance to regain the upper hand at the top of the ninth.
However, the BSI Aces seemed headed for a failure, as Bears closer A.J. Lizama started the inning with a strikeout on Luis Iguel. Virgil Secharmidal was next at bat and walked, but went down later along with Juan Iguel off a double play at second and first.
The Bears had to rally in the eighth to save their perfect season after losing an early lead. Kaipat and Henry Lizama gave the pennant champions the 2-0 lead after scoring in the second inning off the BSI Aces’ miscues. The Bears clung to the shaky lead until the fifth inning before siblings Juan and Lamarc Iguel also reached off the former’s errors at the top of the sixth to force the deadlock.
The Bears failed to counter at the bottom sixth, but regained the upper hand at the bottom of the seventh when Henry Lizama reached off the BSI Aces’ booboo. However, tables turned quickly at the top of the eighth as Lamarc Iguel and Ben Jones’ runs off another Bears’ errors put the BSI Aces ahead, 4-3.
The seesaw battle continued at the bottom of the eighth as this time the Bears got earned runs off Kaipat and Lizama’s hits and the pennant champions hung on tight in the last inning with their big defensive stops for the perfect run in the regular season.