The host team won the battle for the first finals ticket an inning earlier after a strong finish as they collected eight runs in the last three.
The Commonwealth bets were just ahead by 3 after five complete innings, 7-4, when an RBI single from third baseman Nokki Saralu at the bottom of the sixth made it an 8-4 advantage. Guam got the one run back at the top of the seventh off Mike Peredo’s RBI single, however the CNMI countered with a seven-run bottom to set up the early victory via 10-run mercy rule.
Ben Jones led the CNMI in the pivotal top of the seventh inning, as he blasted a two-run double. The host went on to get three more earned runs, thanks to Anthony Tenorio and Lamarc Iguel’s RBI single each and a sacrifice out from Saralu. Tenorio also reached in that inning off Guam’s error at center field.
Now down by 9, 5-14, Guam needed all the runs it could get at the top of the eighth to stay in the game. The visiting team had a chance to score with leadoff batter Ryan Martinez making a double and stealing third with two outs before he was left stranded as CNMI closer Jose Lizama struck out Miller Santos.
With Guam failing to reach home, it was the Commonwealth’s turn to score—just one run—to wrap up the match and advance to the finals. Tomokane led off for the CNMI at the bottom of the eighth and walked before he was beaten to second base. LaMarc Iguel was next and moved to first on a fielder’s choice and stole second. The short stop then made it to third off an error from Guam catcher Vincente Quenga and finally scored the game-winning run off another miscue (shortstop Jathan Barnes fumbled) from the visiting team.
The CNMI will play the title match today at 4pm. Guam will have another opportunity to move into the championship game provided it will win in today’s 10am knockout match. Guam will face in the battle for the remaining finals ticket the winner in last night’s match between Kosrae and Palau.
Guam began its bid for the first finals berth on a right foot, leading at 2-1, after one complete inning. Martinez put Guam on the board with his RBI single, while Ken Fernandez duplicated the feat. The CNMI, on the other hand, got its first run from Ben Jones, who advanced to first and second off Guam’s throwing errors and then stole home, diving and avoiding a tag from catcher Jay Taijeron.
Mike Muna was the starting pitcher for the Commonwealth and after yielding two early runs, he got into his grove and the rest of the CNMI’s defense picked up, limiting Guam’s production. Muna allowed only one earned run in the next five innings and fanned out six batters.
Jesus Iguel scored three runs for the CNMI and his brothers Lamarc and Juan added two each. Verlance Secharmidal, Giovanni Mira, Brian Camacho, pinch runner Henry Lizama, Tomokane, Saralu and Tenorio had one run apiece.