📅12 February 2018
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By Jesse Pinkston Santos

Just four months ago, GISA became the first team out of the continental United States to win the World Championship held in Las Vegas. That win gave them a birth to the Tournament of Champions in Winter Haven, Florida. With over 100 teams from all over North America, Guam traveled the farthest and was the biggest underdog.

Only one team could be crowned TOC Champs and today was Guam’s day to claim that title.

In bottom of the 6th inning, Guam took the lead thanks to a RBI double from Keith Hattig, a homerun over right field from John McDonald and a two run hit from Jimmy Reyes to give Guam the 12-11 advantage.

Top of the 7th, all GISA needed for the win is to hold off their rivals from New York. With the first two batters out at first, C. Schello popped a hard hit to the outfield. Leftfielder, Lawrence “Lots” Idelbong, got under the ball, making the game-winning catch, proclaiming GISA the winners of the Tournament of Champions.

Idelbong talks about the anticipation of the game and his winning catch, “I couldn’t sleep the other night. Everybody’s intensity was super high; we were pumped up for the game. We just kept fighting, it’s the island spirit, we know what we are capable of, it was awesome.”

‘Lots’ also described what it felt like to make the game-winning catch, “Everything was running through my head, all the practices and all the intensity and sacrifices from the families. We got the first two outs, last out came to me and I was already telling myself, just catch the ball, squeeze it as hard as you can, and celebrate. I couldn’t believe it. I’m still in shock. It all paid off. It was awesome, it was so gratifying. We did this for Guam.”

Best of three games, Guam took on a tough team from Rochester, New York. The Bob Johnson Chevrolet/JD Oxfords team lost to Guam 21-16 on Saturday but they beat GISA 20-19 on Sunday morning. Going into game three, the tension and excitement was palpable. Guam started off a bit slow, allowing three runs in the first inning; however, Guam turned up the heat real quick when they came up to bat.

A double run from Benjie Pangelinan followed by a solo shot to left from Pat Alvarez tied the game at three. Shortly after came another double-run, this time from Reyes. New York took the lead in the third inning but GISA came back with a vengeance with a RBI from McDonald. New York took back the lead in the fourth and held the lead until bottom of the 6th.


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