The Chalan Kanoa Bears are back in the finals after sweeping the Blue Jays in the short semis series in the 2019 Saipan Baseball League last Saturday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The defending champions cruised to a 16-3 victory over the Blue Jays in Game 2 to wrap up the best-of-three semis series and notch the first finals ticket. The Bears also easily won over the Blue Jays in Game 1, 18-0, last Oct. 5.
The Henry Lizama, Sr.-coached Bears finished off the Blue Jays after only five innings in Game 2, as the 2018 champions were on target in the first four innings and allowed their foes to score only in the third.
The Bears made three runs apiece in the first and second inning and added five in the third for a promising 11-0 advantage after three and a half innings. Leftfielder Ricardo Dela had back-to-back sacrifice flies in the first and second inning to bring in Henry Lizama, Jr. before the former reached in the third off Koby Lifoifoi’s single.
Designated hitter A.J. Lizama had a pair of singles in the first three innings to go with his two RBIs and two runs, while Kiku Lizama went 3-for-3 and contributed three runs in the Bears’ strong start. Fred Songao chipped in two runs, while Jose Lizama Jr. added one.
As for the Blue Jays, they bungled their chances to hit the board at the bottom of the first inning, as after loading the bases, Bears starting pitcher J.J, Lizama struck out Froilan Camacho and Auriel Mendiola. The Blue Jays also had a chance to score in the second inning with Cabrera walking and moving to second and third off the Bears’ fielding errors. However, Cabrera was left stranded at third when Koby Foreman was caught stealing second.
After being frustrated in the first two innings, the Blue Jays finally reached, thanks to Camacho’s two-run single at the bottom of the third. Jess Mesa made it three in a row for the Blue Jays when he singled, advanced to second and third off the Bears’ errors, and then stole home to keep his team in the game, 3-11.
However, that was the closest that the Blue Jays could get, as the Bears tightened their defense in the remainder of the game, shutting down their foes while adding five more runs to cap the semis sweep.
With the Bears back in the finals, they are now waiting for the winner in the Go See Mark-Mariners semis showdown. The finale will be a best-of-five affair.
Mariners 6, GSM 4
The Mariners moved closer to joining the Bears in the championship series after edging GSM in Game 1 of their semis duel.
The Mariners played steadier in the homestretch, scoring four runs in fifth and sixth inning and withstanding GSM’s rally at the top of the seventh.
The opposing teams were in a deadlock after four and a half innings, 1-1 with Nate Smith reaching off an error for the Mariners in the second and GSM’s Franco Nakamura stealing home at the top of the fifth for the equalizer.
At the bottom of the fifth inning, the Mariners quickly regained the lead, 4-1, with Jon Villagomez blasting a two-run double and Nate Camacho scoring off K.J. Deleon Guerrero’s single.
Then at the top of the sixth, GSM cut the deficit to 2 when J.J. Sablan reached off Nakamura’s sacrifice fly, but the Mariners got the one run back, as Pat Tenorio made it home off their foes’ miscue at the bottom.
Still behind, 2-5, GSM made one final push for a comeback at the top of the seventh and last inning and had some successes. Lancaster Secharmidal scored off Vince Cepeda’s single and the latter also reached on a base on ball with two outs and the bases loaded, boosting GSM’s bid to steal Game 1.
However, the Mariners got the needed stop and pushed GSM on the brink when Nate Camacho, who came in for Jonah Flores late in the sixth inning, fanned Nakamura for the third out.