By Robert Balajadia
For a game that took over three hours to finish, Guam and CNMI provided fans with thrilling baseball as Guam managed to pull off a dramatic comeback in the up and down game. Nichalus Cruz brought home the final two runs in the seventh and final inning to beat CNMI 9-8 in the Big League Division of the Asia Pacific Regional Tournament.
Cody Dowless started off the final inning for Guam by getting a free walk to first base before being replaced by pinch runner Jermaine Tenorio. Sean Cruz was also gifted a walk which helped him get in position to score the winning run. Justin Elm stepped to bat after Cruz and wisely let CNMI pitch who gave up third and second base off an errant pitch setting up Cruz at second while also walking Elm a pitch later. Carl Camacho came in to pitch the final inning after CNMI walked three straight Guam batters.
The Guam and CNMI crowd were taking shots at each other proving the games intensity and with no outs facing Nick Cruz, everyone at Paseo Stadium could feel something big about to happen. Facing two balls and a strike, Cruz made sure to get a good lick on the ball pitched by Camacho forcing it deep left field and out of reach for the CNMI outfielder. Cruz ecstatically raised his arms on his jog to first base while Tenorio and Sean Cruz came storming in, bringing in the final two game winning runs bolting Guam past CNMI to stay undefeated in the tournament. Nick Cruz was mobbed at home plate by his teammates after his victory lap around the field.
Guam started their comeback in the sixth inning trailing 8-4 when CNMI Harry Nakamura hit Sean Cruz and Justin Elm by pitch. Nick Cruz stepped up to bat for Guam and an errant throw to second base allowed Sean to score leaving Elm at second. A batter later with the bases loaded, Nakamura hit Pawcano Luther by pitch bringing another run before being pulled out for Camacho. Despite the change, Camacho still allowed a runner to score by walking George Fernandez with the bases loaded allowing Guam to enter the final inning trailing 8-7.
Things quickly turned in favor of Guam getting the first two CNMI batters out at first. CNMI batter Ricardo Dela Cruz hit a grounder to third that got away from Nick Cruz which would have ended the inning for CNMI. An errant throw to second base allowed the CNMI runner to advance to third base getting the Guam crowd nervous. Cruz rebounded from not catching the grounder by picking up a shot laid out by CNMI Rocco Reyes, making the throw to Sean Cruz at first base in time.
Guam’s Lorenzo Flores pitched a no hitter through the first three innings with Guam leading 4-0 but allowed CNMI to, not only comeback, but take an 8-4 lead due to a power shortage fourth and sloppy fifth inning. Guam committed five straight errors, six total, in the fifth allowing CNMI to take a 6-4 lead. CNMI then used a 2RBI single off an errant catch to go up 8-4 capturing all momentum.
Darren Pablo took over pitching duties for Guam in the sixth and seventh inning keeping CNMI away from home plate for the remainder of the game. With the win, Guam improves to 2-0 in the tournament.
Senior League Scores
CNMI (3-0) 17, China (0-3) 5
New Zealand (3-0) 4, Philippines (1-1) 0
Indonesia (1-2) 19, Thailand (1-1) 6
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