Defending champions Kagman Little Legals prevailed in their early rematch against the Tanapag Falcons, 7-3, as the scaled-down 2019 Saipan Little League Baseball kicked off last Saturday at the Capital Hill Ballfield.
Starting pitcher Albert Adriano stood out both on offense and defense for the Little Legals to lift the Majors reigning champion to a convincing win over their rival last season. Adriano had a two-run homer at the start of the game and went on to finish the match with three runs on a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. He also struck out seven Falcons batters before reaching the pitching count limit late at the bottom of the sixth and last inning.
With Adriano’s homer coupled with Ryan Dela Cruz, Austin Diaz and Santiago Seman’s runs off the Falcons’ errors at the top of the second, the Little Legals took a 5-2 lead.
The Falcons, who were beaten by the Little Legals in the finals last year, 6-4, scored their two runs at the bottom of the second off Damien Cruz’s two-run single. The runners-up were then forced to a 1-2-3 in the third and fourth inning before Cruz put the squad on the board in the fifth with an RBI double.
However, before Cruz’s hit brought Marvin Cabrera home in the penultimate inning, the Little Legals earlier added two more runs with Adriano reaching off a sac fly in the third and again in the fifth off a Falcons’ booboo for a four-run lead.
The scores did not change, as the Little Legals’ defense finished off the Falcons at the bottom of the sixth inning. Noah Iguel started the inning with a double, while Matthew Tomokane was beaten to first and Adriano fanned Vinnie Sablan before being relieved by Diaz for the two outs. Iguel was left stranded at second and the Little Legals ended the match, as Diaz caught a line drive from Zack Dafron.
Blue Jays 18, Marlins 5
In the Minor division game, the Blue Jays stunned defending champions Kagman Marlins.
The Blue Jays needed only three and a half innings to beat the Marlins, who topped the division last year after downing the NSA Braves, 5-3.
N.J. Sablan powered the Blue Jays to the easy win after hitting a grand slam at the bottom of the first inning where his team scored three more runs to take control of the match. Another seven-run inning (third) set up the Blue Jays for the early victory.
Besides hitting a grand slam, Sablan also pitched the Blue Jays to their season-debut win, as he worked the mound without relief in four innings and struck out 10 batters.
The Blue Jays, Marlins, and Braves are the only teams vying for the Minor championship this season, which will be without the Junior and Senior League divisions and was delayed due to the lack of venue. The league used to have its matches at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield and the Miguel “Tan Ge” Pangelinan Ballfield, but both were damaged by Super Typhoon Yutu. SLLB then had to wait for a softball league to wrap up before they could use the Capital Hill Ballfield.
SLLB head Mike Borka would like to thank the following for helping them push ahead with the competition this season: Tan Siu Lin Foundation, Triple J, Pacific Trading, Co., Pacific Rim, Division of Parks and Recreation, Department of Public Works, the CNMI Legislature, and the Governor’s Office.