Franco Flores pitched in relief and the Aces had a seven-run fourth inning as the defending champions downed the Blue Jays, 9-4, in last Monday night’s 2018 Saipan Baseball League game at the Francisco M. Palacios Ballfield.
Flores closed out for the Aces, replacing starter Dung Tenorio at the top of the sixth inning and helped the Aces foil the Blue Jays’ comeback bid. He was tagged with one earned run on four hits, recorded four strikeouts, and had no walks.
Flores, after quickly dispatching six batters in the sixth and seventh, seemed to be losing control in the next two innings, but recovered in time to hand the Aces their third straight win after an opening day loss to the Falcons last month.
The Blue Jays dropped to 2-3 for fourth place behind the Aces and the undefeated and co-leaders Falcons and GSM, which hold identical 4-0 slates.
Kier Agda, with one out at the top of the eighth, got on base on an error by Aces first baseman Eric Palacios and later scored on a Kimo Angailen RBI single for the Blue Jays’ third run in the game.
The Blue Jays had three more hits in the eighth, but blew their scoring chances after Flores forced Leo Salalila and Quin Blas to consecutive fly outs to center fielder Ben Jones Jr.
It was almost the same story in the ninth with Chris George and Russel Hocog scoring back-to-back.
George got on base on an error by left fielder John Tudela, moved to second on Hocog single, and scored on a missed play by catcher Barry Sunumai. Hocog then stole second and later reached home on another throwing error by Sunumai.
Flores and the Aces settled down after the successive miscues with the closer retiring Greg Sablan and forcing Agda to an infield fly. The match then ended when Jess Mesa grounded out to third baseman Nokki Saralu.
Lamarc Iguel went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the Aces’ seven-run inning in the fourth, while John Tudela scored twice on a 2-for-3 batting. Saralu and Sunumai each batted 1-for-5, with the former having an RBI triple also in the fourth and the latter making an RBI and scoring twice. Eric Palacios and Vince Torres combined for 4-for-9.