The BSI Aces moved a win away from taking the championship in the 2017 Saipan Baseball League following a 13-9 victory over the Falcons in Game 3 of their finals series last Friday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The BSI Aces scored seven runs at the bottom of the eighth inning to prevail in the battle of late rallies and boost their title bid. With a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, the BSI Aces will try to secure the championship tonight in Game 4, while the Falcons hope to live for another day and force the deciding Game 5.
The Falcons, who won Game 2 (12-8), for a while, seemed headed for back-to-back triumphs when they overhauled a 1-5 deficit and grabbed the lead, 7-6, after seven complete innings. A six-run top of the seventh allowed the Falcons to overtake the BSI Aces. Ian Norita led the rally with his two-run double and he also reached off a John Tudela wild pitch. Henry Iguel added an RBI double and Giovanni Mira and Frankie Lifoifoi scored off a BSI Aces error at second base and hit by pitch, respectively, to hand the Falcons the one-run advantage.
The Falcons kept the shaky lead at the bottom of the seventh as they forced the BSI Aces to a quick 1-2-3 with relief pitcher Frankie Lieto striking out leadoff batter Mike Iguel, first baseman Bradley Lieto grounding out Barry Sunumai, and then teaming up with third baseman Norita for the 5-3 putout play on Angel Falig.
Two more runs at the top of the eighth inning off Mira’s two run-single gave the Falcons cushion, 9-6, However, at the bottom of the eighth, it was the BSI Aces’ turn to mount a comeback and wiped out the Falcons’ advantage.
Luis Iguel led off for the BSI Aces at the bottom of the eighth and walked. His brother Juan also walked, while their sibling Jesus was called for two balls and two strikes before hitting his target on Frankie’s fifth pitch. Jesus shot landed just past first base, but Bradley Lieto could not handle it as the leather bounced off his hand, allowing Luis to run home and move the BSI Aces within two, 9-7. The BSI Aces went on to tie the match, 9-9, thanks to Ben Jones’ single that brought Juan and Luis home.
After the deadlock, the Falcons momentarily stopped the bleeding when Frankie fanned out Lamarc Iguel. However, the BSI Aces were not done yet as Nokki Saralu blasted a single to the Falcons’ shortstop and drove in Jones to regain the lead, 10-9. Saralu made it an 11-9 advantage as he reached off Mike Iguel’s single to right field. Mike also scored off another Falcons error, while a sacrifice fly from Falig gave the BSI Aces a four-run advantage before Frankie struck out Luis to finally end the torturous inning for the Falcons.
While the BSI Aces took a lot of time playing at the bottom of the eighth inning, it was a different story for the Falcons at the top of the ninth and last. The Falcons were done after only three batters as leadoff Peter Lieto flied out to leftfield, Frankie Lifoifoi was fanned out by relief pitcher Dave Camacho, and Blas flied out to center, putting their team on the brink of losing in their title bid.