Jonah Flores tossed for 8 1/3 innings, while K.J. Deleon Guerrero scored twice to lead the rampaging Mariners to a 6-4 win over the defending champions Aces in their game in the 2018 Saipan Baseball League last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Mariners, who was at 2-3 after a 9-3 loss to the Chalan Kanoa Bears on March 21, won four straight to finish the regular season at fourth place (6-3) and secure a playoff berth (regardless if the league decides to go ahead with the Top 4 format or follow a new one). Go See Mark (8-1), the Bears (7-1), and last year’s losing finalists Falcons (6-2) are the other playoffs-bound teams.
The slumping Aces (4-4) would be eliminated if SBL sticks with the Top 4 advancing to the playoffs format, but could still make it to the postseason if managers and coaches agree to have more squads joining the next round of play.
“We’re going to know next week how are we going to go forward with the playoffs. It will all depend on the meeting whether we’re going to follow the original Top 4 teams or make it the Top 8 teams. But right now, the Aces are already out,” said Rogolifoi.
The make-or-break meeting will be held on April 23.
The Aces will have their last game in the regular season tomorrow when they face the Ballistics in a rescheduled match that was originally set last March 29. The game was called off in observance of Maundy Thursday.
In the Aces-Mariners game, Flores was tagged with three earned runs on 12 hits with three strikeouts and three walks. He shut down the Aces for three innings, from the top of the sixth to the eighth, before being relieved by Nate Camacho when Nokki Saralu was about to bat in the ninth. Flores, before Camacho went in, gave up a leadoff double to Ben Jones and the Aces center fielder scored on a Lamarc Iguel RBI triple.
Camacho, a former starting pitcher for the CNMI Senior League division team when Saipan hosted the 2015 Asia Pacific Regional Tournament, pitched the rest of the ninth and retired Saralu for the first out.
Tyrone Omar hit a sharp line drive to right field, but Devyn Flores was there to make the running catch for out No. 2. Camacho struck out Barry Sunumai to end the game.
Deleon Guerrero went 2-for-3 and scored on an Angel Falig error at the bottom of the second, and again reached home plate on a Ton Tenorio sacrifice fly after getting on base on a leadoff single in the fourth.
Flores scored for the Mariners in the first on a Camacho RBI single, while Nate Smith crossed home plate off Kainoa Wanket’s single. The Mariners’ three other runs were scored in the second inning on errors.
Titanium 20, Outlaws 10
In last Monday’s game, Titanium defeated the Outlaws to end their season at 5-4, and keep their opponents winless after eight games.
Juan Tenorio drove in three runs, while Austin Benavente, Brian Camacho, Lucio Kalen, and Joe Palacios had two RBIs each for Titanium, which dropped a 12-9 decision against the Ballistics last week a few days after completing a 14-11 upset over the Aces last April 5.
Tenorio went 3-for-3 with two runs, while Kalen had a triple, went 2-for-3, and scored twice. Palacios had a double and two runs after going 4-for-5, while Benavente only hit 1-for-3, but had three runs.
Isaiah Lizama, who was walked in the fifth, had a triple and four runs after going 3-for-5 to also contribute to Titanium’s 17 hits.