The race for the final two semis tickets in the 2018 Saipan Baseball League is still open following the Mariners and Aces’ victories early this week at the Francisco “Tan Ko” Palacios Ballfield.
The Mariners downed the Indians, 10-6, last Monday, while the Aces defeated the Falcons last Tuesday, 14-7.
The Aces are supposed to be done with the regular season, as the defending champions finished the double-round robin contest with a 12-6 record for third place in the team standings. However, their win against the Mariners (5-3) is placed under protest and SBL would still have to meet today to make the final decision on the game and the Aces’ official rankings. Only the Top 4 teams will advance to the playoffs and the Chalan Kanoa Bears (15-1) and Go See Mark (13-3) have already secured the first two semis slots.
The Falcons and Mariners are at close fourth place with their similar 11-6 marks. The Falcons have one more game left (versus the Bears this Friday), while the Mariners, though not official yet, would be given the automatic win in their last match versus Ballistics (forfeiture as per tournament rules). The Mariners may either end up with a 12-6 or 13-5 slate, depending on the decision of the under protest match (Aug. 9) against the Aces.
The Aces denied the Falcons’ bid to move into the playoffs and made the battle for the last two semis tickets complicated after gaining cushion against their foes at top of the eighth inning.
The defending champions were clinging to an 8-7 lead after seven complete innings before starting the eighth with five runs to widen the gap, 13-7. The Aces added one more in the ninth and then shut down the Falcons in the last two, including a 1-2-3 at the bottom of the ninth to wrap up the game.
Joe Deleon Guerrero closed out for the Aces and fanned Bradley Lieto and Kolbee Lifoifoi for the last two strikeouts. Leadoff batter J.J. Lifoifoi flied out at shortstop. Deleon Guerrero came in for John Tudela midway at the bottom of the seventh after the Falcons fought back and scored three runs. The closer managed to stop the bleeding for the Aces after striking out J.J. Sablan and stranding a runner at second base. Deleon Guerrero added one more strikeout in the eighth and the Aces kept their defensive stand in the ensuing plays to prevent the Falcons from scoring.
Ben Jones went only 2-for-5 for the Aces, but scored four runs, while Angel Falig added three and also hit 2-for-5.
In the Mariners-Indians game, Nate Camacho and Ton Tenorio delivered three runs apiece to lift the former to the win.
The Mariners registered nine of their total runs in the first four innings to take control of the match. The Indians, on the other hand, were limited to one run on each inning they scored. The Indians fell to a 2-14 mark with two games left (versus GSM tonight and Bears on Aug. 21).