By Robert Balajadia
Baseball has had plenty of dramatic finishes on Guam but fans could not predict how the Asia Pacific Little League Tournament game between Guam and the Philippines would end.
Guam’s Jesse Minor tried his best to hold off the Philippine team with the bases loaded and the score tied at six in the bottom of the seventh inning but could not find catcher Johnny Aguon’s glove and instead nailed Philippine’s batter Joel Lavado in the back ending the game in bizarre fashion on a walk-off hit by pitch. The Philippine team defeated Guam 7-6 after trailing 6-2 heading into the fifth inning.
The final play was set up through a questionable “safe” call by the second base official as Philippine’s Julius Mondragon got a base hit allowing teammate Melvin Panganiban to sprint to second. Minor tried to prevent the advancement of Panganiban by throwing the ball straight to second as the runner appeared to be tagged before sliding to the plate but was called safe. The Guam coaching staff and fans abruptly disagreed with the call. Minor hit Joshua Renzo Espedido to fill up the bases before hitting Lavado for the walk-off hit.
Aguon had a great game making big plays for team Guam while also relaying a lot of field commands getting his team in the best possible situation to win the game. Aguon had a diving catch sliding under one of his own players to get a fly ball for an out in the first inning while also completing a double play by chasing a Philippines runner away from home before sprinting to tag him for the out.
Guam came out strong in the fourth inning starting with Aguon forcing an error to bring in Sage Afaisen to tie the game at 2. Guam then took the lead on a 2RBI double by Ranson Tilfas followed by an errant pitch to bring in another run to give Guam the 6-2 lead.
Wasting no time, team Philippines denied Guam any runs in the fifth inning while posting up four to tie the game. Panganiban used a 2RBI double with the bases loaded to spark the Philippines run. Two batters later, Espedido cashed in another 2RBIs for the Philippines while making his way to third off a mishandled ball deep near midfield.
Team Guam had trouble in the sixth and seventh inning as they appeared to have no flow on offense getting no more than base hits. Team Philippines did a great job at denying scoring possibilities for team Guam catching runners on second base after every near single.
Guam drops to 1-1 while the Philippines win their first game of the tournament. Guam will have a day of rest before playing New Zealand on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. while the Philippines will take on the New Zealand tomorrow at 11:45 a.m.
CNMI (2-0) 15, Indonesia (0-2) 1
New Zealand (2-0) 20, China (0-2) 4
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