The CNMI missed on its first attempt to reach the finals of the 3rd Micronesian Baseball Classic yesterday at the Paseo Stadium in Agana, Guam.
The host won the battle for the first finals set after outclassing the CNMI, 6-4. With the loss, the Commonwealth will have to play and beat Pohnpei today to get a second crack at Guam and try to dethrone the 2018 champion. The CNMI-Pohnpei game is set for 10am and the winner of the rubber match will play back-to-back matches on the same day, as the finals is set at 2pm. Pohnpei earned the right to challenge the CNMI for the last finals ticket after eliminating Kosrae, 7-4, in the earlier playoff game yesterday.
Guam scored two goals each in the second and third inning to grab the upper hand from the CNMI, 4-3, and kept the shaky lead after getting one run apiece in the fifth and eighth inning while shutting down the CNMI in the last three.
Before failing to score from the seventh to ninth inning, the Commonwealth managed to take a 2-0 lead after one complete inning, as leadoff batter Virgil Secharmidal reached off Guam’s miscue and Darion Jones’ single drove in second batter Lorenzo Sebaklim.
After Guam countered with two runs each in the second and third, the CNMI answered with only one run in the third off Ricardo Dela Cruz’s RBI single (bringing home Josenio Alvarez). The visiting squad was also held to one run (courtesy of Dela Cruz) in the last six innings, allowing Guam to win the close game and take the first finals seat.
The Commonwealth had a chance to tie or even regain the lead in the seventh inning with Franko Nakamura on third base and Fred Songao on second with two outs, but Jones was tagged out at first.
The loss ended the CNMI’s three-game winning streak and helped Guam quickly avenge its defeat (0-5) to the former last Wednesday.
Shon Muna led Guam with his two RBIs, while Athan Yatar, Kurt Diaz, and Jathan Muna Barnes contributed one RBI each.
Jose Lizama, Frankie Lieto, and L.J. Sebaklim pitched for the CNMI and yielded seven hits, while Guam also utilized three pitchers and gave up eight hits.