The Chalan Kanoa Bears withstood Titanium’s late rally to eke out a 10-9 victory in Game 1 of their semis series in the 2016 Saipan Baseball League last Monday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The win moved the pennant champions closer to the title game as they only need to prevail in tonight’s Game 2 to wrap up the best-of-three series and clinch the first finals berth.
A.J. Lizama reached off Titanium’s error at third base at the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Bears the go-ahead run. The Henry Lizama-managed Bears then held Titanium to a 1-2-3 inning at the top of the ninth to preserve the shaky lead and take the series opener.
The Bears had to rely on A.J. Lizama’s run and big defensive stops in the ninth inning after Titanium forced the standoff at the top of the eighth.
Titanium entered the eighth inning facing a 4-9 deficit before a Jerald Cabrera three-run triple sparked the team’s comeback. Jerald’s three RBIs coupled with Patrick Tenorio’s run off a fielder’s choice in an earlier play moved Titanium within one, 8-9, with two outs. Jerald also made it home off the Bears’ error at third base for the game-tying run before Titanium’s rally ended when L.J. Untalan was struck out by A.J. Lizama.
A.J. Lizama then batted second for the Bears at the bottom of the eighth after Peyton Lizama flied out to right field and the former advanced off another Titanium booboo at third base. The Bears closer went on to steal second and third before third baseman Jun Rabauliman fumbled anew, allowing A.J. Lizama to reach home and the Bears to reclaim the upper hand. The pennant champions failed to gain more cushion at the bottom of the eight when the next two batters went down with Bill Camacho fanning out Paul Lizama and catcher Jose Lizama Jr. going out on a 5-3 play.
Behind anew after forcing a tie in the eighth inning, but needing only one run to force another deadlock and two to stun the Bears, Nathan Camacho led off for Titanium, but his line drive was picked up by left fielder Marvin Kaipat. Next at bat was Tenorio, who quickly returned to the dugout after a 6-3 putout play, while the Bears completed the 1-2-3 inning and survived Game 1 when Jack Sablan flied out to second.
The win in Game 1 of the short semis series kept the Bears unbeaten record this season and extended their streak to 15.
The undefeated squad seemed headed for the easy victory when it found its target in the first four innings. The Bears scored three runs apiece in the second and fourth and had one and two in the first and third, respectively. Titanium, on the other hand, got two unearned runs each in the third and fifth and was held to six hits by Bears starting pitcher and league ERA champion Jeffrey Lizama in the first five innings.
After a good start, the Bears went without a run from the fifth to the seventh inning, but they kept the driver’s seat as Titanium also failed to hit the board in the sixth and seventh before mounting a comeback in the eighth and falling short in the end.
Meanwhile, defending champions GSM Brewers and the BSI Aces began their best-of-three semis showdown last night and results of Game 1 will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Thursday edition.