SBL pushes back kickoff date


Improvement work at the Francisco “Tan Ko” M. Palacios Ballfield has started last week as the facility is getting ready to host visiting South Korean players and games in the Saipan Little League Baseball and Saipan Baseball League this month. (Jon Perez)

The Saipan Baseball League has pushed back the opening of its 2018 season to give way to a visiting South Korean baseball team that would like to play against local squads at the Francisco M. Palacios Ballfield.

The SBL has tentatively set Feb. 5 as the opening of its season, but moved the kickoff date to Feb. 12 to allow tune-up matches at the “Tan Ko” baseball field from Feb. 4 to 6 and Feb. 22 to 23.

Yong Chul Jang of M&E Enterprises Inc. Saipan, in cooperation with SBL coordinator Tony Rogolifoi, has arranged for the scrimmage between local teams and the visiting South Korean squad. As per the proposed schedule of games, the Korean youth team will play against its CNMI counterpart on Feb. 4 while on Feb. 5, it will be Korea versus Korea. Then on Feb. 6, the match will be between the higher-level units of the CNMI and Korea. Two more games are scheduled on Feb. 22 (CNMI versus Korea junior) and Feb. 23 (CNMI against Korea higher level). All matches will run from 6pm to 9pm.

Jang will be requesting SBL to provide umpires for the games and officials will be paid for their services. He added that all matches will be recorded and shown in South Korea.

The GSM Masters, GSM Cubs, and the BSI Aces are the teams that could go up against the visiting South Korean squad. The GSM Masters and Cubs are the reigning SBL Masters and Under 25 division champions, while the Aces ruled SBL’s last season (open).

In other news, the SBL held a meeting yesterday to discuss the upcoming 2018 season, which will feature nine teams. The league may consider one more team provided that its coaching staff would submit a roster.

Last year’s finalists Falcons, 2016 title winners C.K. Bears, D9ers, Blue Jays, GSM, Titanium, Outlaws, and Mariners are the other teams out to foil the Aces’ title retention bid.

Despite the change in its opening date, SBL still hopes to end the season early to give the soon-to-be-formed CNMI national baseball team enough time to train for the Micronesian Games that will be held in Yap from July 15 to 28. If the league fails to complete the competition early, it may suspend matches midseason and resume action after the Micro Games.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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