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RANGERS MOVE TO FINALS SERIES

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By Patrick Lujan

Conan Cruz scores one of the Rangers runs off a sac fly. (photo by Asha Robles)

Conan Dela Cruz scores one of the Rangers runs off a sac fly. (photo by Asha Robles)

Undefeated teams either rise to the occasion or falter in the playoffs.

The Talofofo Rangers stepped up big time Tuesday night, crushing the Chalan Pago Amigos 12-2 in the semifinals of the Jim Beam Amateur Baseball League at the Leo Palace Baseball Stadium.

The game was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. The Rangers finished the season 12-0 while the Amigos were in fifth place at 5-6.

Sixteen-year-old Robbie Rabago went the short distance after a rough start and the Rangers offense was lighting up the Mannengon night with big hit after big hit.

“I had a lot of butterflies,” the young Talofofo starter said. “Once I got the butterflies out and I got into my rhythm, it felt good. The Amigos are a tough team…they made me nervous.”

Rangers catcher Terrence Pablo was instrumental in calling the game for young Robbie Rabago. (photo by Asha Robles)

Rangers catcher Terrence Pablo was instrumental in calling the game for young Robbie Rabago. (photo by Asha Robles)

So nervous Rabago hit Amigos leadoff hitter Aleton Mesgon and walked Alan Quintanilla to get into a quick hole. Chalan Pago would take an early 1-0 lead when Zach Quintanilla later drove in Mesgon with a deep sacrifice fly to left.

Rabago managed to get out trailing only 1-0. He would give up only two hits the next three innings.

Meanwhile, his teammates made quick work off Chalan Pago starter Paul Campos.

“The whole team was very supportive,” Rabago added. “Every time I came into the dugout, I hear ‘good job, good job.’”

Clean-up hitter Conan Dela Cruz did the most damage early on as he ripped a two-run single to center in the first inning and came back in the second inning for another two-run drive, a bases loaded double to left-center field  to make the score 7-1. This was after Terrence Pablo sliced a two-run single to the gap. That was it for Campos for the night as he was replaced by Florencio Binuya.

Trailing 10-1 in the top of the fifth, the Amigos gave it one more shot.

Chalan Pago was able to get to Rabago a bit as Alan Quintanilla drove in a run with a deep double to the wallk in left-center. A couple of batters later and two on, the stage was set for the dangerous Ray Quintanilla. Rabago got the Amigos #4 hitter to pop up the opposite way to shallow left. That’s where shortstop  Andrew Taijeron made the defensive play of the game with a full-out sprint to the open gap to snag the fly and kill the threat.

Talofofo's Shaun Santos gets some help up from Chalan Pago first baseman Brian Quintanilla after a collision at first base. (photo by Asha Robles)

Talofofo’s Shaun Santos gets some help up from Chalan Pago first baseman Brian Quintanilla after a collision at first base. (photo by Asha Robles)

“Gotta get it,” Taijeron said about the play. “It’s the playoffs.”

Taijeron wasn’t done. After that great defensive play, he produced a RBI triple in the bottom half that drove in twin brother Angelo.

Pablo ended the night with a RBI single on the very next at-bat that drove in Andrew Taijeron that sealed the deal and sends the Rangers to next week’s best-of-three championship series.

Talofofo new awaits the winner of Saturday night’s other semifinal game between the Yona Redhawks (2) and Barrigada Crusaders (3).

Game 1 of the championship series is slated for next Tuesday at Leo Palace.

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QUICK HITS

Team Onslaught represented Guam at the National X-Ball League paintball tournament in Sacramento, CA. The squad finished in 3rd place out of 12 teams in the Division 5 category.

Front L-R: Frankie Borja, Robert Delos Reyes
Back L-R: Marvin Reyes, Ericka Camacho, Gavin Santos, Nick Rivera, Nikki Tan, Adrian Mora, Ralph Sgambelluri

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Purebred Jiu-Jitsu Guam adds three more to their black belt stable. Daniel Cayanan, Cameron Mantanona and Peter Ungacta received their black belts on Saturday from Professor Stephen Roberto.

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