The Northern Starz sent the Tigers packing after an emphatic 18-8 win in the playoff game for the fourth and final semis slot in the 2014 Saipan Baseball League last Tuesday night at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
With the victory, the Northern Starz arranged a semis duel against pennant champion Saipan Stevedore Yankees with Game 1 of their best-of-five series scheduled to be played tonight. The other Final Four pairing will have the second-ranked and defending champions GSM Brewers battling the third-seeded Fielders.
The Northern Starz and Tigers had to go through a playoff match to join the Yankees, Brewers, and Fielders in the next round after completing the double-round robin regular season with similar 4-6 records. The Tigers forced a tie for the fourth and last semis berth after prevailing in their final game in the regular season against the winless D-9ers (0-10), 18-8, last Friday.
The Northern Starz, on the other hand, dropped its last two assignments in the elimination round before regaining its bearing and outclassing the Tigers in a make-or-break game. The Northern Starz cruised past the Tigers after winning the exchanged in the first four innings, as the former scored four runs apiece in three innings, while the latter was held to two unearned runs.
E.J. Tenorio, Mike Iguel, and Jeremy Atalig hit RBI singles and the latter reached off a wild pitch to lift the Northern Starz to a 4-0 lead after one complete inning. The Tigers sliced the deficit to two with McGary Scaliem and John Santi scoring off errors at the top of the second, but the Northern Starz countered with another four-run inning to keep its distance. Lamarc Iguel blasted an RBI double, Tenorio had another RBI single, which Dodet Feliciano and Ben Lizama duplicated for the Northern Starz’s 8-2 advantage.
The lead was then stretched to twin digits, 13-2, as Northern Starz’s starting pitcher Lamarc Iguel stranded four Tigers runners in the next two innings, while the eventual semifinalist took five more runs—four of them were earned. The Tigers’ never recovered from thereon, despite scoring in each of the last four innings. The Tigers recorded their most runs (three) in the fifth inning with Peter Lieto connecting on a two-run single and Jesse Mesa scoring off an error, but was held to one run each in the last three innings.
The Northern Starz failed to rack up a single run in the fifth and saved one in the sixth before going flat anew in the seventh for a 14-7 lead. The Tigers moved within six, 8-14, off Mesa’s RBI single, but the Northern Starz still secured the early win via 10-run mercy rule after bagging four more runs at the bottom of the eighth. Three of those runs were earned, while the other one was registered off the Tigers’ error at second base.
Tenorio led the Northern Starz with his 4-for-6 performance at the plate, four runs, and two RBIs. Iguel also had two RBIs after going 3-for-5 at bat.