The Falcons soared past Laolao Bay, 9-1, to take the pennant in the Major division of the 2014 Saipan Little League Baseball last Saturday at the Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Ballfield.
The defending champions now have a 12-1 record and are likely to finish on top of the 15-team field, ahead of IT&E (12-2) and the Braves (11-3) even if the Falcons drop their remaining game in the regular season. An IT&E and Falcons tie at 12-2 would still leave the latter with the pennant because of the winner-over-the-other rule. The Falcons eked out an 8-5 victory over IT&E in their Feb. 15 meeting, while the former absorbed their lone loss so far in the tournament at the hands of the Braves, 2-12.
Pitcher Justin Cangco led the Falcons’ pennant-clinching victory over Laolao Bay (7-6). He pitched six complete innings and gave up only three hits and one earned run. The Falcons pitcher also had eight strikeouts.
Cangco gave up an early double to Laolao’s Kawika Fernandez at the bottom of the first inning with the latter driving Justin Agulto home. Despite making it to the board right in the first inning, Laolao Bay still trailed, 1-2, as the Falcons got two runs at the top of the opening frame. Joel Norita scored the first run for the Falcons when he made it home off an error from Laolao Bay third baseman Franko Namauleg, while Aven Evangelista recorded the second from Angel Iguel’s sacrifice out.
The Falcons hung on to the shaky lead in the second inning, as Cangco struck out Laolao Bay’s first three batters before gaining more cushion in the third, 7-1. Arby Yaguel connected on a two-run single at the top of the third and the Falcons bagged three more runs off Laolao Bay’s defensive lapses to widen the gap.
The eventual pennant champions went on to tuck in one run each in the fourth and sixth inning with Evangelista scoring off a fielder’s choice and Cangco stealing home, while Laolao Bay continued to have a miserable time on offense.
Laolao Bay was called for two quick strikeouts in the third and was done in the inning after only three batters. It also went 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth inning and missed a chance to score a couple of runs in the fourth, as it had three runners stranded.
J.P. Celis led off for Laolao at the bottom of the fourth, singled, and made it all the way to the third. Fernandez was next at bat and was booted out with Evangelista catching the former’s line drive. K.C. Kalen batted third and singled, while Donovan Babauta walked after Thomas Agulto grounded out at first. With two outs and runners on the corners, all eyes were focused on Namauleg, who succumbed to the pressure as he was struck out by Cangco.
Meanwhile, results of the two other Major division games will be reported later this week.