Long-time CNMI mentor Tony Rogolifoi has tapped a young, but internationally-tested squad to represent the islands for the second edition of the Micronesian Baseball Classic that will be held in Guam this month.
The MBC, a brainchild of Rogolifoi to continue the development of the region’s young players, will take place at the Paseo Stadium in Agana in Guam from Nov. 14 to 20. Kosrae and Palau will be joining host Guam and the CNMI in the tournament.
The Commonwealth crew will be led by Brian Camacho, the only holdover from the team that won the inaugural MBC held on Saipan last year. He will be sharing the first baseman duties with Angel Palacios, while the second baseman role will be divided between Jobe Reyes and A.J. Evangelista. Ian Norita and Peter Tomokane will be alternating at third base, while Virgil Secharmidal and Franco Nakamura will share shortstop roles. Henry Lizama Jr., Anthony Tenorio, and Ricardo Dela Cruz are the outfielders, while Barry Sunumai and Jerald Cabrera are the team’s catchers. Manny Cabrera, Joe Palacios, Nathan Camacho, Jhace Palacios, Lorenzo Sebaklim, J.J. Lifoifoi, L.J. Sebaklim, and Ethan Babauta make up the CNMI’s bullpen.
The CNMI National Team will have its last practice on Saipan this Saturday, from 9am to 12pm, and will leave at 8:40am on Sunday. Rogolifoi has scheduled a practice this Sunday afternoon after they arrive in Guam.
Rogolifoi said he has high hopes for his young team that’s tasked to defend the MBC crown. The CNMI ruled the inaugural event by scoring a 15-14 come-from-behind win over Guam in the one-game finals.
“This is a young team, but our players are no stranger to international competitions. Most of them are graduates of the Little League program and have represented the CNMI in the Asia-Pacific (regional tournaments) and the (Little League) World Series,” the CNMI National Team manager said.
“We just want to expose them in another level of competition and majority of them have not yet played either in the Micronesian Games or the Pacific Games,” added Rogolifoi, who steered the CNMI to gold medal wins in the 2006 Saipan Micronesian Games and the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia. He also helped the Commonwealth to silver medal finishes for two straight editions of the Micro Games—2010 in Palau and 2014 in Pohnpei.
“This is a new, but strong team. There’s no guarantee that we’re going to bring home the gold but we will try. Kosrae is improving, while Palau and Guam have always been known as strong contenders,” said Rogolifoi.
Meanwhile, with the CNMI National Team competing in the MBC next week, Rogolifoi said there won’t be any games in the Masters and Under-25 divisions in the Saipan Baseball League from Nov. 13 to 20. Games will resume on Nov. 22.