The CNMI swept the preliminary games in the 3rd Micronesian Baseball Classic after blanking host Guam, 5-0, yesterday at the Paseo Stadium in Agana.
Mike Muna and Franko Nakamura pitched for the Commonwealth, giving up only five hits in the shutout victory that handed their squad a 3-0 record and the momentum it needed, as the CNMI faces Guam anew today at 2pm with the first finals berth at stake.
While Muna and Nakamura did a good job hurling for the CNMI, A.J. Lizama and Darion Jones led the team’s offense. Lizama went 2-for-3 at bat and scored two runs and two RBIs, while Jones was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2. Fred Songao also helped after hitting 2-for-4 and getting one RBI.
A.J. Lizama put the CNMI on the board at the top of the first inning with his single driving leadoff batter Virgil Secharmidal home. A.J. Lizama then broke the team’s four-inning silence when he reached at the top of the sixth off Guam’s error. Dennis Cabrera also scored from Guam’s miscue for the CNMI’s 3-0 lead.
A.J. Lizama then made it a 4-0 advantage with his single bringing in leadoff batter Henry Lizama, while the former handed the CNMI its fifth and last run with the help of Songao’s single at the top of the seventh inning.
At the bottom of the last inning, Guam had a chance to score when Isaiah Nauta reached third off the CNMI’s error with two outs. However, he was left stranded and the game ended when Nakamura struck out Gavin Lim.
Guam had a scoring opportunity earlier at the bottom of the second inning with runners on second and third base. However, a big defensive stop from the CNMI—a double play—frustrated the host.
Interestingly, Guam did not field its pro players—Peter Perez and Sean Cruz—in yesterday’s match, but both are expected to suit up for the squad today when it collides with the CNMI anew for the first finals berth.
Kosrae (1-2) and Pohnpei (0-3) will meet in the other playoff match today at 10am with the winner facing the loser of the CNMI-Guam game tomorrow for the last finals seat.