CNMI off to World Series


Players of the CNMI Senior All-Star Team celebrate after beating the Philippines, 4-2, in the finals of the 2018 Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Tournament yesterday at the Global Villages, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. The ASPAC champions will be going to the World Series in South Carolina later this month. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI Senior All-Star Team earned a trip to the World Series after pulling off a 4-2 finals victory against the Philippines in the 2018 Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Tournament yesterday at the Global Villages, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, Philippines.

A three-run top of the sixth inning set up the CNMI’s title win, which came after the Doru Camacho-managed squad stunned the No. 1 seed and perennial rival Guam in the semifinal game in the morning, 9-2.

After being silent in the first five innings and the Philippines ahead, 1-0, the CNMI Senior All-Stars finally made it to the board at the top of the fifth, thanks to Trevon Lieto’s RBI double. Vicente Camacho scored on Lieto’s hit, while the Philippines got its first run (earned) at the bottom of the fourth.

Joel Norita then made it two in a row for the CNMI and put his team on top when he reached off the Philippines’ error, while J.P. Celis gave the visiting crew more breathing room, 3-1, when he also scored from a passed ball. The Commonwealth bets registered the three straight runs after being called for two early outs at the top of the sixth.

At the bottom of the penultimate inning, the hosts countered with only one run (unearned), as the CNMI made a couple of big defensive plays. After PH posted its second run, it managed to bring runners at first and third, however the fourth batter flied out at right field with Arby Yaguel catching the ball and then throwing to first baseman Vicente Camacho, who beat a runner heading back for the double play and the end of the inning.

After that crucial stop, Vicente Camacho whacked a single that brought home Leve’que Iguel at the top of the seventh inning and increased the CNMI’s lead, 4-2. The scores remained, as the Commonwealth players hung tough on defense anew at the bottom of the seventh. Vicente Camacho grounded out at the PH’s leadoff batter, while closer Norita walked the second batter, who was then forced out at second after third batter Kennedy Torres had a fielder’s choice. One out away from punching a ticket to the World Series, the CNMI made things happen right in the ensuing play, as shortstop Pedro Maratita picked up a grounder from Kenneth Torres and threw to Vicente Camacho for the third out.

The Asia Pacific champion CNMI is back in the World Series after missing the tournament in 2016 and 2017. In 2015, the CNMI Senior All-Stars, who were managed by Greg Camacho, went to Bangor, Maine to represent the region in the World Series. This year’s competition will take place in Easley, South Carolina from June 28 to Aug. 6.

The win against the Philippines in the finals was third in a row in the two-day playoff for the CNMI, which entered the knockout stage with only one victory (versus Indonesia) against two losses. In the playoffs, the Commonwealth bets first beat Hong Kong, 6-3, and then pulled off an upset over the then unbeaten Guam (4-0) in yesterday’s semis game.

It was also the sixth-inning uprising that propelled the CNMI past Guam. Goru Camacho’s wards were ahead by only two after five complete innings, 4-2, before bagging five runs at the top of the sixth to pull away. Guam failed to score at the bottom of the sixth and was also shut down at the bottom of the seventh with a quick 1-2-3. CNMI pitcher Pedro Maratita caught a fly ball from Manny Babauta, while Aven Evangelista and Vicente Camacho teamed up for a 4-3 putout play on John Cruz. For the third out, Vicente Camacho had a different partner in the game-ending defensive stop with Joaquin Fleming picking up a grounder at third and throwing to first to beat Guam’s Ethan Lobaton.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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