The CNMI National Baseball Team will play in the opening game in the Inaugural Micronesian Baseball Classic on June 24 at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Commonwealth’s foe in the opener will be determined via a draw during the technical meeting among the participating teams, according to tournament director Tony Rogolifoi. Guam, Palau, and Kosrae are coming over to Saipan to join the host for the first ever regional tournament.
The CNMI crew is composed of 22 players who are seeing action in the 2016 Saipan Baseball League, which is on the closing stage of the second round of the regular season, but took a break since last week to give way to MBC. Selected to play for the host squad were the GSM Brewers’ Nokki Saralu, Anthony Tenorio, Byron Kaipat, Pat Alepuyo, and Tyrone Omar; the BSI Aces’ Juan, Lamarc, and Mike Iguel, Mike Muna Jr., John Tudela, Verlance Secharmidal, and John Jones Jr; Titanium’s Joe Palacios and Brian Camacho, the Falcons’ Giovanni Mira and Frankie Lieto, the Yankees’ Peter Lieto and Peter Tomokane, and the Chalan Kanoa Bears’ A.J., Henry Jr., Jose, and Jeffrey Lizama.
Henry Lizama, also of the Bears, will manage the Commonwealth selection, which will have Manny Sablan of the Brewers and the BSI Aces’ Luis Iguel as coaches and the Yankees’ Franco Flores as trainer.
Players and team officials were selected last Saturday. All-Star players in the Saipan Little League Baseball program were also considered for the team, but because of some tournament rules and the upcoming Asia Pacific Regional Tournament, they did not make it to the selection, according to Rogolifoi.
After the roster was completed last weekend, the 22 players buckled down to work and started training last Monday. Their will continue to practice next week.
Meanwhile, the three visiting team will start arriving on Saipan on June 21, according to MBC Organizing Committee chair Rose Igitol.
Kosrae has listed a 25-man delegation and players and officials will come in two batches with the first one touching down at Saipan International Airport on June 21 and the second on June 22. They will be billeted at the Sun Palace Hotel. Palau will stay at Aquarius Hotel with its 28-member delegation arriving on Saipan on June 21 and 22, while flight details of Guam team have yet to be announced.
“The technical meeting will be held on Thursday, June 23, upon the arrival of all team coaches and managers. Meeting will be at the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium and tournament details and rules, team rosters will be finalized,” Rogolifoi said.
The tournament will implement a two round-robin format with a page system in place for the playoffs, Rogolifoi added. Under the page system rule, the No. 1 and 2 finishers after the preliminary games will battle for the first finals berth. The loser will then duel the winner of the knockout match between the third and fourth-ranked squads for the second and last finals ticket. All matches will be played in nine innings.