By Robert Balajadia
The Junior National’s were planning to use their speed as an advantage and their final three runs couldn’t come any faster which provided late game drama followed by after game drama.
The Paradise Fitness Junior Nationals stole Game 1 against the Bank of Guam Athletics (A’s) in of the best of five series by getting their final three runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to stun the A’s 3-2 in Friday night Budweiser Baseball League playoff action.
Junior Nationals’ Billy Quenga was staring down a full count against relief pitcher Paul Pangelinan with the bases loaded down 2-1 and two outs away. Quenga got a great grounder between second and third base that was eventually caught by the A’s and the throw was made to try and tag Quenga out at first base, but the catch was mishandled which allowed teammates Polly-Card Luther and Daniel Cruz to score the game tying and winning runs.
The Junior Nationals stormed the field and bombarded the home plate where A’s catcher Mark Paulino was standing in disbelief of how the game ended. A few players ran into Paulino and Paulino took into offense which garnered an exchange of words between the players.
Coaches and teammates held back the players involved before it got any worst.
The A’s were holding on to a 2-0 lead heading into the final inning when Nat’s Johnny Aguon was able to get on base due to an infield error by the A’s. Aguon then tried to steal second base but was caught dead between two A’s. Trying to scramble, Aguon and an A’s baseman created contact which lead the umpire to allow Aguon to take second base.
Aguon then managed to steal third base where the A’s then decided to retire starting pitcher Roke Alcantara to bring in Pangelinan.
Aguon’s stolen bases allowed the Jr. Nationals to score their first run as Julian Flores was tagged out at first on a fielders choice.
Pangelinan walked two straight batters in Luther and Cruz which eventually loaded the bases for Quenga’s winning hit.
The first four innings of the game were a defensive war between Alcantara and Jr. Nationals’ Jesse Miner as both pitchers allowed no hits and struck out five batters each heading into the 5th inning.
The A’s found their first run in the top of the 6th inning where Randy Alcantara smacked in an RBI double break the scoreless game.
An bizarre situation in the 8th inning also allowed the A’s to bring in a run as Luther tried to make a throw to first base, but it tagged the umpire instead allowing A’s Don Franquez to bring a run to go up 2-0.
Alcantara found himself in hot water in both the 5th and 7th innings with runners on third base with only one out away. However, the veteran kept calm and trusted his arm where he was able to fry the Jr. Nationals’ batters to save the innings.
Miner pitched a complete game for the Jr. Nationals and had a couple of sensational first-base tags that had the A’s playing closer to the bag.
Game 2 between the Jr. Nationals and Athletics is scheduled for Tuesday, June 3. Game 1 was originally supposed to kick off between the teams on Sunday, May 25, but a rain-out forced the games rescheduling.
BBL Playoff action continues Sunday with the Orioles and Braves battling it out in Game 3 with the series tied at one game each.
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