Bears take finals opener


The Chalan Kanoa Bears players and coaches exchange high-fives during Game 1 of their semis series against the Aces in the 2018 Saipan Baseball League early this month at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield. The Bears are in the finals and won Game 1 of their best-of-five title showdown against Go See Mark. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The Chalan Kanoa Bears 2018 drew first blood in the championship series in the 2018 Saipan Baseball League after beating Go See Mark, 8-5, last Monday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.

The pennant champions scored five runs at the bottom of the fourth inning to regain the lead and kept it as the Bears shut down GSM in the last four to take Game 1 of the best-of-five title series.

The opener was played a week after the league took a break to give way to a tournament and both teams showed some signs of rust at the start of Game 1. The Bears and GSM were held to one run each in the first inning. Henry Lizama’s sacrifice bunt brought Bears leadoff batter Kiku Lizama home at the bottom of the first, while earlier at the top, Bryon Kaipat’s single drove in Lorenzo Sebaklim.

GSM then failed to score in the second, but combined for three runs in the next two for the precarious 4-3 lead. Kaipat scored at the top of the third off a fielder’s choice, while Pete Tomokane made an RBI double, and GSM’s lone run at the top of the fourth came from Diego Camacho, who was brought in by Sebaklim.

The Bears were shut down at the bottom of the third after drilling two runs in the second—off Shakobe Rangamar’s RBI single and a GSM error—to lose the upper hand. They then reclaimed the driver’s seat at the bottom of the fourth after drawing a two-run single from Kiku Lizama. Kiku also reached, while Henry and A.J. Lizama added one each off GSM’s error at third and a wild pitch from starter Kelvin Kapileo.

Now ahead, 8-4, the Bears held GSM to one run in the fifth and silenced of their foes in the last four innings to win the opener. Kaipat posted GSM’s lone run in the final five innings off Roy Celis’ single and the team had multiple chances to reach home from the sixth to ninth, but was repeatedly frustrated by the Bears’ defense.

GSM had two runners stranded at first and second at the top of the sixth when shortstop Kiku Lizama grounded out Camacho. GSM earlier had two batters called for flyouts. Then at the top of the seventh, two managed to make it to third, but Kaipat went down on a 6-2 play, while Tomokane was left stranded after the Bears forced a double play.

The Bears continued to thwart GSM at the top of the eighth where the latter loaded the bases with two outs only to fall short anew after Tomokane flied out at shortstop. Then in the last inning, GSM was called for two quick outs with Celis going down on a 5-3 play and closer A.J. Lizama striking out Pat Alepuyo. Lancaster Secharmedal was next at bat, singled, and then made it to second, but was beaten to third, ending Game 1 in favor of the Bears.

Game 2 is originally set for today, but may be canceled due to Typhoon Yutu.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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