What a difference a year makes for the Bank of Saipan Red Sox. It was only last season when they finished ninth to miss a playoffs berth in the Saipan Little League Majors division.
In a matter of 12 months, call them champions as the Ran- dall Aguon-managed squad foiled the top-seeded Natibu Sports Association Braves’ title bid, 10-4, in last Saturday’s finals at the Miguel Basa Pangelinan Ballfield.
“It is beyond words what I feel right now. It was a long journey for the kids just to get to the finals. And now, all of their hard work had finally paid off,” said a visibly wet Aguon, after being given a traditional water shower following their upset win.
Zack Camacho limited the Braves to one-hit with both of the runs unearned in the bottom of the sixth while striking out five and walking two in 2.2 innings pitched in relief.
Camacho, who came in the bottom of the fourth with Victor Joel Igitol up to bat, and the Red Sox had some anxious moments in the sixth where the Braves attempted to make a comeback.
Steven Kileleman, who walked and stole second base, scored on an error by second baseman Joven Reyes. He did this with two outs, after Camacho forced Josenio Ray Alvarez to an infield fly then struck out Igitol.
Antonio Norita reached safely on first base after another Reyes error, moved to third on an infield single by Heath Quinton Camacho, and scored on a Devon Pangelinan error.
Camacho, however, settled down after that and the Red Sox, led by third baseman Shane Mallens, celebrated after forcing Anthony to a pop fly that was caught by first baseman Winfield Ada.
Orren Cruz tossed 4.1 innings in the start where he held the Braves to one hit with the two runs in the third were both unearned while retiring two and walking two more. He went 2-for-3 and took Vicente Camacho’s third pitch to deep left for a solo shot that made it 5-2 in the top of the fourth.
Reyes had two doubles and scored three times batting 3-for-4, while Pangelinan, 2-for-4, had two runs and an RBI single in a four-run fifth inning by the Red Sox. Kiana Aldan whacked an RBI triple and touched home plate in the first.
Vicente Camacho took the loss after working for 4.2 innings where he gave up six earned runs on seven hits, while fanning five and walking one. Dison tossed 1.2 innings in relief limiting the Red Sox to one hit with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Red Sox, who finished third after the elimination round with a 10-2 record, foiled the Taalabwogh Little Falcons’ title defense bid after a 9-2 win in last week’s semifinals while the Braves crushed the Docomo Ol’Aces, 18-4.
One of the Red Sox’s two losses were against the Falcons, who were aiming for a third straight title after beating the Braves in last year’s finals, 9-2. They won their first crown in 2013 against Team McDonald’s. Their other loss was against the Comets.
Five players, however, will move on to the Junior League next season led by Aldan, who is one of the three girls on the team, Cruz, Pangelinan, Ada, and Zack Camacho. Rita Agulto and Alexiana Tyquengco were the other female players on the Red Sox.
Aguon, however, is confident that they could defend the title next year with the very animated Shane Mallens leading the squad.
“Shane is Shane. He’s been like that cheering up the team. It is always fun to watch him play and he’s been sort of the comic of the team. He’ll be the veteran and will be back again next year,” ended Aguon.