Big League All-Stars hang on


CNMI Big League All-Stars' Brian Camacho torques back for a big swing against the Philippines during their game in the 2012 Little League Baseball Asia Pacific Regional Tournament at the Paseo Stadium in Guam (Walter Sutherland)  HAGATNA, Guam-The CNMI Big League All-Stars are hanging by a thread with one game left on their schedule.

The CNMI (1-2) hopes for a Philippines (2-1) loss and a win over Guam (1-1) today, to force a three-way tie in the standings where the team with the lowest runs allowed average would be deemed the champion. Guam and the PH faced off yesterday at 5:15pm.

The third time was a charm for the CNMI, which managed its first win last Saturday after a close 3-2 victory over the Philippines.

The group coughed up a four-run lead in Friday’s match against Guam and was stunned, 9-8, by its rival hosts. The Big League All-Stars also came up limp in the conclusion of their suspended meeting with the PH last Friday before the pair’s second outing. The CNMI could not get its engine to start on the first crank and dropped the resumed match last Saturday, 2-3.

Philippines 3, CNMI 2

The Philippines broke the ice with a run in the second inning, but CNMI knotted it back up at 1-apiece in the bottom portion. The PH’s Miguel Salud reached on an error at third base, while the CNMI’s Patrick Tenorio made it on with an infield hit to the pitcher. Both players were moved over by their teammates and stole home.

The CNMI then moved in front, 2-1, in the third inning after MacGarette Duenas smashed a base hit to left field and scored on an error behind the plate. The CNMI held the lead until the top of the fifth inning when the PH’s leadoff batter Francisco Hashimoto cracked a single to center field and later stole the dish to lock the match at 2-all. The CNMI left two runners stranded in the bottom side.

It remained a standstill all the way to the last inning when the PH pushed ahead, 3-2, in the seventh after Felipe Remollo legged out an extra bag when his shot to the shortstop caused a hurried throw over to first base. Dylan Tantuico provided the much needed RBI single. Heavy rain then fell with two outs in the top of the seventh causing the game to be suspended until Saturday.

The action picked up just before the teams’ second pairing last Saturday and entailed an non-climatic ending. The CNMI got out of the inning quickly, but came up empty in the final stand.

Guam 9, CNMI 8

Guam assumed an early 2-0 favor in the first inning, thanks to a pair of RBI singles by Cody Dowless and Sean Cruz. The host moved forward, 4-0, in the second inning from a sacrifice fly by Palycaro Luther and three stolen bases by speedster Darren Pablo, who also hustled out a fumbled bunt to third base.

CNMI starting pitcher Nathan Guerrero was tapped by Harry Nakamura in the third inning and the reliever made it through three innings on the hump before running into trouble.

On the other side of the plate, the CNMI’s top of the order finally found some offense in the fourth inning and pulled within a run, 3-4.

Leadoff batter Patrick Tenorio was hit by a pitch and Duenas reached on a fielder’s choice where everybody was safe and later Brian Camacho hit a two-RBI double.

The CNMI then surged ahead, 8-3, in the fifth inning off two hits and five errors. Rocco Reyes reached on an error and was moved over to third base after a fielder’s choice by Jeremy Lizama. Reyes scored thanks to a bad throw by the catcher.

Lizama made it all the way to third base after the error and Lamarc Iguel drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Tenorio dropped a sacrifice bunt and a hurried throw to the plate missed its mark, allowing Lizama to score and Iguel to move to third base. Duenas stepped in next and drilled a sizzler down the third base line and took second base after a wild throw on the play.

Camacho then bashed a single and made it over to second base, which set the table for a two-RBI bash by Keoni Lizama through the shortstop before Guam could escape the inning.

CNMI left two runners on base in the sixth and Guam made it a one run game, 7-8, in the bottom frame. Nakamura sat down his first man, but then plunked two batters in a row. Guam managed runners on the corners with two outs and a bobbled cut off maneuver to second base by CNMI left the door open for a late rally. Guam loaded the bases with a fielder’s choice and a another hit-by pitch by Nakamura gifted the host rival a run.

Notably, CNMI was receiving calls on the outside of the plate, so Nakamura had to work from the inside. The Guam batters were not leaning into the pitches, but were not trying to avoid them either. Four batters ended up getting beamed altogether.

Joe Palacios was waved in from right field to the mound after the break down and got the CNMI out of the jam with the lead still intact, 7-8. The CNMI then stranded another pair of runners in the seventh and a controversial delay during the side change caused a screeching halt to the rhythm of the game.

Palacios went to the mound and began to warm up, but the CNMI staff decided to go with Kevin Villagomez to close the game. However the Guam coaches protested that since Palacios was already warming up, by rule he had to throw at least one pitch before being substituted. As it turned out that rule only applies to new pitchers entering the game and the CNMI never broke a rule.

Three consecutive walks led to Villagomez being replaced by Carl Camacho who, despite getting ahead in the count, gave up a booming two-RBI walkoff to Guam’s Nichaus Cruz.

CNMI 3, Philippines 2

The rematch was a nice pitching duel as the game remained scoreless for the first five innings.

The CNMI managed a pair of runs in the sixth inning off a pair of RBI singles by Brian Camacho and Harry Nakamura. Lamarc Iguel reached second base on an error to start the inning and was driven home by Camacho. Nakamura then doubled him home for the early edge, however the Philippines obliged with two runs in the bottom frame off a passed ball and an RBI single by Miguel Salud.

Both teams kept each other in check in the last inning of regulation and the CNMI scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Duenas reached on an error and hustled over to second base on an error at shortstop. Camacho then jacked a towering RBI double over the center fielder’s head and went to the mound and secured the win in a 1-2-3 fashion.

Junior, Major All-Stars fall short

Meanwhile, the CNMI Major and Junior All-Star squads both advanced in their respective pool play, but still fell short in the title bids.

The Major All-Stars advance to Saturday’s semifinals, but fell to host team Chinese-Taipei, 2-8, at the Taichung Taipei’s Wens Shiao Field. Notably, Kier Agda belted a home run in the loss.

Over at the Nha Trang City City in Vietnam, the CNMI Junior All-Stars bowed to Chinese-Taipei in the finals last Friday, 1-5.

By Walter J. Sutherland

Walter J. Sutherland Reporter

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