By Robert Balajadia
It took one week and 11 innings for the Budweiser Baseball League’s semifinals Game 1 in the best-of-five series between the Bank of Guam Athletics and the Crown Bakery Phillies to get underway with the underdog Phillies pulling off a comeback in the top of the 9th inning to eventually beat the A’s 9-6 at the Paseo Stadium.
With a power-outage nearly postponing the game for a third straight time, the Phillies cranked the midnight oil by scoring three runs in the 11th inning to topple the A’s and steal game one.
Phillies’ Shon Muna Jr. hit an RBI double off A’s pitcher Sean Cruz to give the Phillies a 7-6 lead in the top of the 11th inning. A pass ball followed by a wild pitch added two more runs for the Phillies as they grabbed the 9-6 lead before Cruz was relieved by pitcher Rick Fernandez, who ended the inning by striking out JD San Nicolas.
Randy Alcantara was facing a golden opportunity for the A’s in the bottom of the 11th inning with the bases loaded and no outs against Phillies pitcher JD San Nicolas, who came in after Eric Cepeda hit DJ Cruz to load the bases, but to no avail for the A’s.
Niether Alcantara, Zack Sablan nor Ignacio Alden could bring in any runs for the A’s in a tragic Game 1 loss. Costly errors in the 9th inning committed by both teams forced the extra innings.
Top of the 9th
The A’s were holding on to a 5-3 lead with just one out, starting pitcher Roke Alcantara Jr. at the mound, and Phillies’ pinch runner Joseph Duenas at first base with JD San Nicolas stepping up to bat. San Nicolas slammed a pop fly out to center field in the vicinity of A’s Mike Paulino who appeared to be in position to make the play but a costly drop allowed Duenas and San Nicolas to take second and third base.
The A’s then decided to retire Alcantara Jr. and put in Sean Cruz to try and close out the game. Cruz had a rough going throwing five straight balls, while walking Phillies’ Derwin Aguon in the process. With the bases loaded, Tim Muna cranked a 2RBI single to tie the game at five.
Then, Phillies’ Tim Cruz got a hit that fell right into the A’s outfielders’ glove but an errant throw to first base allowed Aguon and Muna to advance to second and third base. Kevin Cruz drew the walk on A’s Sean Cruz but another errant throw to third base by catcher Mike Bautista allowed the Phillies to take the 6-5 lead, putting the pressure back on the A’s.
Bottom of the 9th
A’s Mike Paulino was ruled out at first to begin the inning but Bautista sparked life in the teams dugout with his base hit immediately after. Gerald Santos could not beat the throw to first base which put the Athletics within a single out from dropping game 1.
Phillies’ Eric Cepeda could not get the out and instead walked A’s DJ Cruz which moved Baustista to second. Kris Koneshiro came in as pinch runner for Bautista which proved to benefit the A’s.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Cepeda was in position to close out BOG (no pun intended) with Randy Alcantara at bat. Alcantara got a decent hit on the ball but immediately knew he did not get a good enough lick on it to get a base hit, with second baseman Tim Cruz chasing it down.
Cruz got his knees low and put his glove towards the ground to scoop up the ball but it never came, slipping through his legs allowing Koneshiro to score the game tying run at 6 all.
With no runs scored in the 10th inning, the Phillies capitalized on the 11th inning heroics by Shon Muna Jr. and the mistakes of the Athletics.
Winning pitcher for the Phillies went to Eric Cepeda while Sean Cruz gets the loss for the A’s. Cepeda and Cruz had 2k’s each. Starting pitcher Roke Alcantara had 6k’s while Phillies starter Freddy Cepeda finished with 5k’s. DJ San Nicolas had 1K in the save while A’s relief pitcher Rick Fernandez had 1k as well.
Bautista went 4-5 with 2 runs and 2RBI’s to lead the A’s. Phillies’ Kevin Cruz went 2-3 with 1 run and and RBI while teammate Tim Muna went 1-3 with 2RBI’s.
Game 4 between the Braves and Cardinals will play out Friday night while the A’s and Phillies will play Game 2 on Sunday night.
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