Peter Lieto won his pitching duel with Joe Palacios as the Falcons hung on to a 3-1 win over the IP&E Fielders in Wednesday night’s game in the 2015 Saipan Baseball League at the Francisco M. Palacios Baseball Field.
The win was the seventh in nine games for the 2007 champion Falcons, who will close out their season against the Saipan Stevedore Yankees on March 25.
A win against the third-running Yankees, who holds a 6-3 mark, and a Brewers loss in one of their last two matches, would secure the Falcons the pennant.
The Brewers currently hold a 6-2 slate and close out the elimination round against lowly teams North Starz tonight and the Jets on Monday. Two wins by the Brewers coupled by a Falcons victory next Wednesday would force a one-game playoff for the pennant.
The Fielders, however, dropped their fourth straight game to end their elimination round campaign with a 4-6 card.
Both Lieto and Palacios tossed complete games combining for 26 strikeouts, the most in a single game this season. The former also holds the most strikeouts in a single game this season with 18 in the Falcons’ 10-4 triumph against the Jets on Jan. 16.
Lieto, the league’s second best hurler this season, fanned 11 with four walks and pitched seven shutout innings before allowing Cody Kaipat, who had a leadoff walk, to score the Fielders’ lone run in the top of the eighth.
He also surrendered two hits to Roy Wylie, who had a sacrifice fly in the eighth that allowed Kaipat to reach home plate, in the top of the third and to Tom Guerrero in the eighth.
Still in the top of the eighth, Falcons catcher Goro Iskawa made a timely throw to third baseman Ton Benavente, who tagged Guerrero out as the latter moved too far away from third while attempting to steal home.
Lieto, with two outs and no runners on base, then struck out Quinson Blas to end the eighth.
Palacios, on the other hand, was tagged with two earned runs on seven hits while fanning 15 and walking two. He allowed a two-RBI single to A.J. Lizama, 2-for-4, and ripped a triple in the sixth, in the bottom of the third.
Iskawa, who singled in the bottom of the seventh, scored on a Palacios wild pitch for the Falcons’ other run in a 2-for-4 batting, while Lamarc Iguel had a double and scored one run despite a 1-for-4 appearance at the plate.