The Commonwealth sluggers led, 3-2, after five complete innings before an 11-run top of the sixth allowed Bangor to bounce back and foil the CNMI’s bid for a debut win in Pool A.
The Patrick Tenorio-managed squad made it to the board at the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring two runs to grab the upper hand, 2-1. Bangor broke the ice earlier at the top of the fourth with Kyle Stevenson’s sacrifice fly driving Dennis Farnham home. At the bottom, Kelvin Jack Deleon Guerrero hit an RBI double that brought home Craig Aguon, while Joseph Lifoifoi nailed an RBI single to bring in the former and put the Asia Pacific champions to the driver’s seat.
An RBI single from Derek Fornier at the top of the fifth tied the match, 2-all, but the CNMI broke the deadlock right at the bottom off a sacrifice out from Darion Jones. The bases were loaded when the big hitting Jones grounded out. A.J. Evangelista scored, while Jessie Brel and Nathan Camacho advanced to third and second, respectively, with two outs. Virolanson Secharmidal was called for the first out off a fly ball to centerfield and the CNMI was soon charged for the third when Franko Nakamura came up with an empty swing on his last attempt after getting caught looking in the first two by pitcher Jesse Colford.
Holding a precarious one-run lead, going into the top of the sixth, the CNMI got a bad break at the penultimate inning when an earlier 1-2-3 double play was overruled. The controversial call came with the bases loaded and Stevenson hit a foul ball. The match report did not explain the violation or the how the earlier call was overruled and a message to the CNMI team asking clarifications has yet to be returned at press time.
Stevenson reached on a fielder’s choice after the lucky break, while Farnham scored, Brian Pierce advanced to second, and Johnny Cote was out at third. With the game tied at 3-all, Jones relieved Mel Sakisat Jr. on the mound and after giving up a walk, he allowed an RBI single to Trevor DeLaite. Once the host wrestled the led, it never relinquished it, collecting nine more runs at the pivotal top of the sixth.
A 1-2-3 play at the bottom of the sixth sealed the doom for the CNMI. Deleon Guerrero led off and grounded out, while Lifoifoi suffered the same fate with Stevenson picking up the ball at shorts stop, and Aguon flied out to second.
The CNMI went only 6-for-25 at bat in its opening game with Camacho the lone bright spot on the team with his 2-for-3 performance at the plate and two singles. Lifoifoi and Deleon Guerrero both drilled 1-for-3, while Jones was 1-for-2.
Bangor was 13-for-29 and got 12 earned runs. DeLaite led the host with his 4-for-5, four RBIs, two runs, and two doubles. Stevenson added three RBIs despite going only 1-for-4 at bat and also tallied two runs.
In the pitching battle, Colford had a complete game for Bangor, posting only one error and striking out three. The CNMI utilized five pitchers and only Sakisat managed to get strikeouts (3) in four innings pitched. Camacho started out for the Commonwealth and lasted only one inning. Jhace Palacios came in and shared short pitching duties with Evangelista in the second inning before Sakisat came in late at the top of the second.
Meanwhile, the CNMI Senior All-Stars will try to barge into the win column today when they face Central East Maui Little League from Wailuku, Hawaii. Then tomorrow, Tenorio’s wards will challenge the Dumfries District of Dumfries, Virginia. The Commonwealth must finish in the Top 2 in Pool A to make it to the playoffs.