The BSI Aces ended the GSM Brewers’ two-year reign in the Saipan Baseball League after a tough 6-5 win in Game 2 of their semis series last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
John Tudela led the Aces’s sweep of the Brewers, who ruled the 2014 and 2015 editions of the SBL, as he made the winning hit at the bottom of the extra inning. The Aces’ starting centerfielder batted fifth for his team at the bottom of the 10th inning with two outs and Ben Jones at third and Lamarc Iguel at first. Tudela hit his target with his single bringing Jones home and the Aces to the best-of-five finals series against the winner of the rubber match between the Chalan Kanoa Bears and Titanium last night.
Besides delivering the dagger, Tudela also scored the game-tying run at the bottom of the seventh. He worked the mound, too for the Aces in 6.1 innings and after giving up two earned runs and five hits since he took over from Juan Iguel late in the third, Tudela shut down the Brewers from the seventh to ninth inning, yielding only one hit while striking out three.
The relief pitcher earlier gave up a two-RBI single to Anthony Tenorio at the top of the sixth and the latter also scored off an Aces error, while Jesse Brel reached off another miscues from the eventual first finalist to help the Brewers grab the lead, 5-4. An RBI single from Diego Camacho at the top of the second inning put the Brewers on the board.
The BSI Aces, on the other hand, got their first run early with leadoff batter Verlance Secharmidal reaching off a fielder’s choice at the bottom of the opening inning. The Aces went to score, too in the second and third to take the 4-1 advantage. Angel Falig hit an RBI single in the second, while Mike Iguel had an RBI double and his brother Lamarc reached off a sacrifice fly from Eric Palacios in the third.
The BSI Aces failed to light up the board in the next two innings, but hung on to the lead as the Brewers were also without a run from the third to fifth before rallying at the top of the sixth. At the bottom sixth, the BSI Aces were done after only four batters with relief pitcher Vince Cepeda fanning out Falig and Luis Iguel and Jones flying out at left field, leaving Secharmidal stranded at first.
The BSI Aces then redeemed themselves at the top of the seventh, forcing the Brewers to a 1-2-3 inning as Tudela struck out Manny Sablan and Ricardo Dela Cruz, and Pat Alepuyo went down on a 6-3 play. While the Aces made big defensive stops at the top seventh, the Brewers committed errors at the bottom, allowing Tudela to score and tie the match. Cepeda walked Tudela and the former made it all the way home off the Brewers’ successive booboos with two outs. The Aces had a chance to break the standoff as Juan Iguel was at third base and Palacios at first with two outs, however a 1-3 putout play on Falig foiled their bid.
The BSI Aces were also one step away from the winning run at the bottom of the ninth after Tudela singled, stole second, and advanced to third off a Brewers error with two outs. However, he and Juan Iguel were left stuck at third and second, respectively, after Cepeda fanned out Falig to extend the match.
At the top of the extra inning, it was the Brewers’ turn to try to regain the lead as they loaded the bases with only one out. However, the BSI Aces’ defense stepped up anew as they got the two straight outs to frustrate the Brewers. Secharmidal caught a fly from Tyrone Omar, while shorts stop Lamarc Iguel and first baseman Palacios teamed up in booting out Byron Kaipat.
The Aces were also called for back-to-back outs at the bottom of the 10th with Luis Iguel and Secharmidal going out on 4-3 and 6-3 plays, respectively. Next at bat was Jones and he advanced to first off Cepeda’s error and stole second. Jones then moved closer home off a miscue from third baseman Sablan, while Lamarc Iguel made it to first off a fielder’s choice. Jones went on to reach home off Tudela’s hit—the latter’s only RBI in Game 2.
Tudela was 3-for-5 at bat and scored two runs.
Meanwhile, Game 1 of the best-of-five finals will be played this Friday.