The Braves and the Red Sox recorded contrasting victories in the Senior League division of the 2014 Saipan Little League Baseball last Saturday at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
In the first game, the Braves needed two extra innings to thwart the JPO Enforcers, 7-6, while in the second match, the Red Sox finished off the Lions after only four and a half innings, 15-2. The Red Sox remained undefeated in six games to keep the lead in the six-team field, while the Lions are winless after six matches. The Braves improved to a 5-1 record for solo second place, while the Enforcers dropped to fourth with their 3-3 card, behind the Jets, who got a free win (forfeiture) in the last game against the Fielders (0-6).
Roke Tenorio scored the go-ahead run at the top of the ninth off James Kintaro’s single. Then at the bottom of the ninth, the Enforcers missed extending the match further, as leadoff batter Oscar Stefano was stranded at second after J.J. Lifoifoi got two quick strike outs, followed by a 5-3 putout play on Jeff Dela Cruz.
Earlier at the bottom of the eighth, Dela Cruz stole home to send the neck-and-neck match to the second extra inning. Lifoifoi also scored at the top of the eighth off Juan Quitugua’s double. Lifoifoi’s run ended the Braves’ silence in the last two regular innings. Last year’s finalists were also on a slump in the first four innings, failing to score against Enforcers starting pitcher Darion Jones, who struck out five batters and stranded two runners in that stretch to help his team build a 5-0 lead.
The Enforcers went ahead on a sacrifice fly and passed ball in the second inning, and RBI singles from Fred Songao and Peyton Lizama and an RBI triple from Jones in the fourth inning. Jones continued to man the mound for the Enforcers in the fifth inning, but this time he was hittable. The Braves’ first two batters made it home off Tenorio’s RBI triple and an Enforcers’ error at left field, while Angel Palacios stole home to spark a comeback. Lifoifoi then helped the Braves equalized, 5-5, with his two-run single.
The game remained in a deadlock and went into extra innings, as the Enforcers went cold in the last three innings, while the Braves failed to hit the board in the last two.
While it took two more innings for the first game to wrap up, the second one ended earlier, as the Red Sox capitalized on the erratic defense of the Lions to earn the win via 10-run mercy rule.
The Red Sax got nine runs off the Lions miscues to turn a tied game after the first inning, 1-1, to a 13-run win. The Lions made it to the board first off a wild pitch and error from starting pitcher Craig Aguon, while the Red Sox drew an RBI double from Jerald Cabrera, who also stole home at the bottom of the first.
Aguon, who quickly recovered from a bad start after getting back-to-back strikeouts in the first inning, booted out the Lions’ first three batters in the second and went on to notch five more strikeouts in the last three innings to lift the Red Sox to the early win. Aguon allowed only three hits.
While the Lions struggled against Aguon, the Red Sox’s batters were on a zone in the last three innings. Jhace Palacios, who was hit by a pitch in his first at bat, went 3-for-3 in the last three and also bagged two RBIs and one run. Cabrera also had two RBIs on a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and tallied two runs. The Braves recorded five runs in the second and four each in the third and fourth.