The CNMI Senior League All-Stars split their last two games in the 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Tournament to finish fourth in the World Series qualifying tournament held at the Clark International Sports Complex in Pampanga, Philippines.
The Commonwealth hammered Indonesia, 23-1, in its final elimination game last Friday to rank third in the preliminary round with its 2-2 record. Only the Top 2 (Australia and Guam) advanced to the title match, leaving the CNMI and the fourth finisher Philippines to play in the consolation match. The hosts went on to avenge their 1-6 loss to the visiting team in the elimination with a 7-3 triumph in the battle for third place game last Saturday.
A four-run top of the fifth inning gave the Philippines enough cushion en route to denying the dethroned champion a Top 3 finish in the five-team field. The Philippines was hanging on to a 3-2 advantage after four completing innings when a two-run single from Caleb Evaristo at the top of the fight allowed the hosts to gain more distance. Fausto Esmendi and Rafa Roque added two runs off a passed ball and CNMI’s error at shorts stop to extend the Philippines lead to 7-2.
The CNMI failed to counter at the bottom of the fifth as it was called for a 1-2-3 inning, while the visiting squad was also without a run in the sixth. An RBI single from Virgil Secharmidal at the bottom of the seventh then kept the Commonwealth in the game with two outs and Henry Aguon at third base. However, Aguon was left stranded and the Philippines secured the win and the third place trophy that went with it as Jay Kalen was called for a 4-3 putout play.
The CNMI fell short against the Philippines despite coming off a lopsided victory over Indonesia.
The Lawrence Camacho-managed squad toyed around the defense of Indonesia by scoring the second most runs in the match. Eventual champion Australia, which shut down Guam in last Saturday’s finale, 10-0, recorded the most runs in the tournament when it pounded Indonesia last Wednesday, 33-0.
Tindin Deleon Guerrero led the CNMI’s victory over Indonesia, as the catcher went 3-for-4 at bat and made five RBIs. He also scored two runs. Larson Sebatang was only 2-for-5 at the plate, but contributed four RBIs and also tallied two runs.
The Commonwealth got 14 RBIs and went 14-for-31 at bat. It blew the game wide open after exploding for 16 runs in the third inning. Indonesia posted its lone run in the match at the top of the third inning with Akmal Mizan reaching off a fielder’s choice.
The win over Indonesia was the CNMI’s second straight, but it came too late as the former had already dropped its first two matches—versus Guam, 7-12, and against Australia, 4-21—undermining the 2014 and 2015 champion’s chances to return to the World Series.
Australia, with its perfect run in last week’s competition, will represent the Asia Pacific in the World Series that will take place from July 31 to Aug. 6 in Bangor, Maine.