The CNMI opened its campaign in the 3rd Micronesian Baseball Classic in style following a 7-0 shutout win over Kosrae yesterday at the Paseo Stadium in Guam.
Jose Lizama Jr. worked the mound for the CNMI and nearly threw a no-hitter, as he gave up only one hit and struck out eight in a no-relief job to hand the 2016 champion a strong start in the four-nation field. Guam and Pohnpei are the other teams competing in the third edition of the MBC, which was originally scheduled to take place in Guam mid last year, but was pushed back due to the renovations at the baseball field in Agana.
Joining Jose Lizama Jr. on the CNMI crew are A.J., Jeffery, and Henry Lizama Jr., Fred Songao, Ricardo Dela Cruz, Angel Palacios, Eli Aughenbaugh, Nate Camacho, Nate Smith, Franco Nakamura, Lorenzo Sebaklim, Dennis and Noel Cabrera, Josenio Alarez, Darion Jones, M.J. Sakisat, Frankie Lieto, Poland Masaharu, Michael Muna, and Virgil Secharmidal.
Sechermidal delivered the first run at the bottom of the first inning for the CNMI, which has Tony Rogolifoi, Jose Lizama Sr., and Henry Lizama Sr. as members of the coach staff. The catcher and leadoff batter reached off Kosrae’s throwing error, while Nathan Camacho also scored after their opponents committed a defensive lapse.
The CNMI then failed to hit the board in the second and third inning, but made up for it in the fourth after adding four runs. Jones and Sebaklin each blasted an RBI single and also reached home, while Aughenbaugh and Dennis Cabrera scored the two other runs for the winning squad. Fred Songao recorded the last run for the Commonwealth bets off a single from Nakamura at the bottom of the fifth inning.
The CNMI finished off Kosrae after only six and a half innings, as the latter bungled its chances to score at the top of the sixth. R-Jay Joe was at third base and Junior Nena at first with two outs, but they were left stranded when Palacios caught a fly from Scott Nena at first base.
After its debut win over Kosrae, the CNMI will be back at the Paseo Stadium today to face Pohnpei at 12nn, while the former hopes to bounce back when it duels defending champion Guam in the 3pm match. Guam, which had its first game against Pohnpei yesterday, ruled the second edition of MBC after routing Palau, 11-1, in the 2018 finals. The CNMI, which took the inaugural title following a come-from-behind 15-14 victory over Guam, placed third in 2018.
The third edition of the regional competition will follow the same rules—round-robin in the preliminary and page system in the playoffs. The Top 2 finishers after the round-robin play will battle for the first finals berth this Thursday at 10am. The loser will then face the winner in the match between the No. 3 and 4 ranked teams this Friday at 10am for the second and last finals ticket. The championship game is also set for Friday at 2pm.