The BSI Aces withstood the Chalan Kanoa Bears’ rally to pull off a 10-8 victory in the opening game in the 2017 Saipan Baseball League last Monday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The BSI Aces built enough cushion in the early innings and leaned on John Tudela’s solid pitching in the closing stages of the match to thwart the defending champions’ comeback bid and draw first blood in the meeting between last season’s finalists.
A seven-run bottom of the second inning allowed the BSI Aces, who were swept by the Bears in their best-of-five title series, to open a promising 10-0 lead. Vince Torres provided the highlight in the BSI Aces’ surge as he blasted a three-run double, making up for the strikeout he suffered in his first trip at the plate. Torres also reached home in that inning off the Bears error at first base, while the BSI Aces got two more runs from the defending champions’ defensive lapses. Tudela scored the other earned run for the BSI Aces off Juan Iguel’s single, while Barry Sunumai had a two-run single and Eric Palacios had an RBI walk in the first inning.
Behind by double digits, the Bears slowly trimmed the deficit down, starting in the third when they scored two runs. Two more runs in the fifth and one in the sixth kept the defending champions in the game, as the BSI Aces went cold after a good start. Then at the top of the ninth and last inning, the Bears threatened the BSI Aces when leadoff batter Peyton Lizama reached off Jose Lizama’s double, and A.J. Lizama followed suit, thanks to Nick Cruz’s single. Ethan Lizama pinched run for Cruz and also made it home off the BSI Aces’ error at third base, moving the Bears closer.
After the Bears’ first three batters scored, the BSI Aces decided to bring in Tudela and relieve Dung Tenorio. The closer then delivered under pressure, as he struck out the next three batters, ending the Bears’ hopes of starting their title defense bid with a win.
Meanwhile, two more teams had their season-debut game last night with the GSM Brewers battling Titanium. For today and tomorrow, the four other squads in the eight-team field will suit up in their first assignments with the Falcons and D-9ers colliding tonight and the Blue Jays and Comets squaring off this Thursday. Then to close out the opening week of the league, the BSI Aces will meet the GSM Brewers.