The CNMI will be pinning its hopes on a young but battle-tested squad when it competes in the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap.
Twenty-one players made it to the CNMI National Baseball Team with most of the members selected in contention in the individual statistics race in the ongoing 2018 Saipan Baseball League. Some of them also either played under SBL coordinator Tony Rogolifoi in the Big League division of the Saipan Little League or in previous national squads and also suited up for CNMI All-Stars teams in the Little League program.
Five of the Top 10 players in the batting leaderboard in the 2018 SBL season are on the CNMI roster, led by leader A.J. Lizama. In last month’s statistics, Lizama had a batting average of .568 and drove in a league-best 15 runs aside from hitting two homers.
Lizama plays for the Chalan Kanoa Bears and will be joined by teammates Angel Palacios, cousin Henry Lizama Jr., and brother Kiku Lizama on the Yap-bound national squad.
Veteran Roy Celis will spearhead the CNMI bullpen that is also composed of pitching leaders Kiku Lizama, Nathan Kapileo, Frankie Lieto, Joe Guerrero, A.J. Lizama, and Peter Tenorio. Anthony Tenorio, Pat Alepuyo, Lorenzo Sebaklim, Ben Jones Jr., Shane Yamada, Brian Camacho, Virgil Secharmidal, Franko Flores, Byron Kaipat, Tyrone Omar, Nokki Saralu, and Jonah Flores are the other members of the team.
Celis, Kaipat, Omar, Alepuyo, Camacho, and Jones were part of the CNMI crew that won the silver medal in the 2014 Micro Games in Pohnpei. They lost the gold against Guam, the same team they beat in the 2006 Micro Games finals held on Saipan. The CNMI bowed to Palau in the 2010 edition of the quadrennial meet and is hoping to end its back-to-back bridesmaid finishes this time
Patrick Tenorio will be managing the national team, while veteran Manny Sablan, one of the catchers in the 2006 Micro Games gold medal-winning squad, and Mike Cruz are the coach and assistant, respectively.
This year’s Micro Games will run from July 15 to 27. Baseball will be played at the Yap Sports Complex’s field from July 16 to 27.