The NSA Braves withstood the Blue Jays’ late rally for an 11-6 victory in their title game in the Minors division of the 2019 Saipan Little League Baseball last Saturday at the Capitol Hill Ballfield.
Ahead 11-0, the Braves seemed headed for a walk in the park going into the top of the fourth inning before the Blue Jays made a final push, scoring in succession after capitalizing on the former’s errors.
Four of the Blue Jays’ runs in the fourth inning came from the Braves’ miscues. The first six batters on the Blue Jays’ top of the order reached with Nick Sablan and Payton Pangelinan the last two to score off the Braves’ booboos—a wild throw from second pitcher Aiden Magofna and from the eventual champions’ fielding errors. The Braves coaching staff had seen enough and wanted to halt the rally, so they tapped Rosie Saralu to relieve Magofna.
Saralu went on to struggle early on the mound, giving up a single to Jesus Santos and walking Dave Mangarero, who were on their second at bat in that inning. Next to step up to the plate for the second time was Hunter Dela Cruz with two outs and runners on three corners. Saralu got the first strike and moved one more after Dela Cruz hit a foul ball. Dela Cruz got two more foul balls, keeping the Blue Jays in the game. Pressure mounted on both sides, as Saralu threw two low balls and one high for the full count. The closer then threw a wild pitch, which Max Taitano fortunately picked up on time to lob the ball to Saralu, who tagged Landon Springer out at home to end the game and hand the Braves the championship.
Saralu, besides delivering the crucial defensive stop for the Braves, went 2-for-3 at bat and scored two RBIs and one run. She had her lone run in the first inning where the Braves took a 5-0 advantage. Aiken Norita also scored at the top of the first and hit an RBI triple, while Taitano, Abraham Saralu, and Herman Iguel reached, too for the Braves.
Iguel started out for the Braves and threw a one-hitter while shutting down the Blue Jays in three innings. He struck out the Blue Jays’ first three batters and his fourth K at the top of the second inning left three runners stranded. The Blue Jays were then called for a quick 1-2-3 in the third inning, while the Braves got for more runs—two earned—at the bottom to build a 11-0 advantage. Earlier in the second inning, Abraham Saralu and Keshley Aguon reached from the Blue Jays’ errors.
With the three innings completed, the Braves only needed to stop the Blue Jays at the top of the fourth for the early win, which did not came, as the latter mounted a comeback before falling short in the end.
With the title victory, the Braves finished the 2019 season undefeated and took the championship that eluded them in 2018 after losing to the Kagman Marlins.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s and the Kagman Little Legals dueled for the Majors division title yesterday and results of the final will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition.