The Chalan Kanoa Bears marched into the finals of the 2018 Saipan Baseball League after sweeping the Aces following a 10-7 win in Game 2 of their semis series last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
A seven-run top of the second inning gave the Bears the control in the second match of the best-of-three semis series. They then withstood the Aces’ rally in the last inning to take the first finals seat and dethrone the 2017 champions.
The Bears were ahead by only one, 3-2, after one complete inning when A.J. Lizama’s two-run double sparked the pennant champion’s surge at the top of the second. Shakobe Rangamar added a two-run single, while Henry Lizama also brought two home with his single, and Kiku Lizama had an RBI single for a 10-2 lead.
Earlier at the top of the first Kiku reached off a fielder’s choice for the Bears’ first run. Virgil Secharmidal and Richard Dela Cruz then scored of the Aces’ defensive mishaps to take the shaky lead after their opponents got two runs at the bottom of the opening inning off Mike Iguel’s RBI double and Angel Falig’s sacrifice fly.
After giving up seven runs to the Bears in the second inning, the Aces tightened up their defense in the ensuing plays to remain in the game. On offense, Tyrone Omar added one run for the Aces at the bottom of the third off the Bears’ error, while Falig blasted a two-run single in the fourth inning to trim the deficit, 5-10.
The Bears failed to widen the gap when they went scoreless from the third to ninth inning and were threatened by the deposed champion at the bottom of the last, no thanks to Benwachi Taisacan’s round-tripper.
The lefty, with one out and Falig on first base, was called for two outs and two balls when he took A.J. Lizama’s fifth pitch and hit an over-the-fence homer at rightfield and brought Falig home. Taisacan’s homer cut the deficit to 3 and the Aces stayed in the game when Barry Sunumai walked. However, he was left stranded there and the Aces were eliminated when the Bears got the last two outs. A.J. Lizama fanned Jeremy Atalig and second baseman Fred Songao caught Juan Iguel’s line drive.
With the sweep, the Bears now await the winner of the other semis series between Go See Mark and the Mariners. GSM won Game 1 last Monday, 14-10, but the Mariners placed the opener under protest, as the former used a wrong player at leftfield. League officials have yet to decide on the protest, while GSM and the Mariners played Game 2 of the series last night and results of their match were unavailable at press time.
The Bears and the winner in the GSM-Mariners tiff will duel in a best-of-five title series later this month, as SBL will push back the finale to give way to a tournament at the Capital Hill Ballfield.