The Chalan Kanoa Bears dominated Go See Mark, 7-0, as last season’s finalists had an early faceoff after colliding in the opening game in the 2019 Saipan Baseball League last Saturday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfied.
Joe Lizama threw a one-hitter and his teammates also held their own on defense to shut down GSM and start the Bears’ title defense bid on a high note.
The Bears clinched last year’s crown after ruling the shortened title series. The defending champions won Game 1 of their best-of-five title series against GSM, 8-5, last Oct. 22 or a few days before Super Typhoon Yutu slammed Saipan and Tinian. The Category 5 typhoon left the “Tan Ko” unplayable and with the massive damaged it sustained, SBL officials, in consultation with the two teams’ representatives, decided to call off the remaining games in the series and declared the Bears the winner of the 2018 season.
Counting their victory in the 2019 opener, the Bears stretched their win streak to 21. They lost the first game of the 2018 season (against the Aces/March 9, 2018) before sweeping the last 17 games in the elimination round. The Bears then won Games 1 and 2 of their semis series against the Aces to keep their streak before topping GSM in the finals opener.
In their early rematch against GSM, Fred Songao and A.J. Lizama scored two RBIs each with the former adding two runs off a 2-for-3 performance at bat. Lizama chipped in one run, while Kiku Lizama made two after going 2-for-4 at the plate and recording a pair of doubles. Virgil Secharmidal and J.J. Lifoifoi delivered the two other runs for the Bears.
GSM struggled offensively in the opener, failing to make it pass second base, as the Bears’ fielders were quick to pick up the ball or catch flies to repeatedly frustrate their foes.
Meanwhile, the two other games in the opening week were rescheduled due to rain. The two other matches set last Saturday were Team Rockies versus the Aces and Blue Jays against the Mariners.