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GUAM COMES BACK, ADVANCES TO GOLD MEDAL GAME

Great comeback Thursday night to move on

By Patrick Lujan

SAIPAN – The day-long trade winds continued to breeze past the baseball field Thursday night and Guam took their sails to advance to the gold medal game of the 2022 Pacific Mini Games.

Guam scored three runs in the sixth and three in the eighth after trailing 3-0 to head to the gold medal game Friday night at 6:45 pm.

Palau and CNMI will play at 1 pm Friday with the winner advancing to play Guam later in the evening. CNMI crushed Fiji 23-2 to stay alive earlier in the day.

With the game tied 3-3, Guam scratched out three gutty runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat Palau for the second night in a row.

After a walk and bunt single, Shane Muna drove in Javen Pangelinan with a shallow single to center. A B..J. Balajadia sacrifice fly and fielding error scored the last two runs.

“We want that gold. Silver ain’t enough.”

team manager Joe Tuquero

Palau starting pitcher and UOG Tritons standout O’Neil Yobech was in cruise control from the start, keeping the young Guam bats at bay.

Palau struck first in the top of the third. Dusty Etpison was safe on a fielding error by Guam first baseman Sean Balauro before stealing second. Etpison would score when O’Leary Ise dropped a perfect bunt that third baseman Guaifon Terlaje couldn’t connect to first, making it 1-0.

Palau added an RBI slap single in the fourth to make it 2-0 and loaded the bases in hopes of blowing it open. On a two-out full count, Nolan Cruz got Ise to pop out to right field to stave off any further damage. That would be the end of the night for Cruz as Javier Concepcion came in to relief Guam’s starter.

Palau added an unearned run in the sixth on a Concepcion wild pitch to make it 3-0.

ON THE BOARD

Guam finally got to Yobech in the sixth. After Shon Muna, Jr. singled and stole second, Jeremiah Sablan popped a run-scoring single to right off his knee to awake Guam 3-1. John Salas, Jr. and Shane Muna came right behind with crowd-pleasing RBI singles to tie it all up 3-3.

NEW GAME

With the scored knotted at 3-3 after the sixth, Guam brought in veteran left Paul Pangelinan and held down Palau the rest of the way for the win, striking out four in his three innings of work. Yobech went the distance for the tough loss.

Guam knocked out 11 hits backed by a couple of hits each from Muna, Jr. Shane Muna, Sablan and Balajadia. Guam also survived five errors.

Team Guam huddles around coach John Salas before their 8th inning rally.

Guam’s Early Threats

  • Jeremiah Sablan singled in the second, but was picked off first base by Yobech.
  • Balajadia smacked a two-out stand up double to the left field fence in the third, but was left stranded.
  • Balajadia legged out an infield single in the fifth, but was left stranded once again when Palau’s centerfielder pulled off a twisting, winding, diving Play of the Game catch.
  • Muna, Jr, tapped a bloop single and stole second in the 4th before Jeremiah Sablan was hit by a pitch with only one out. Palau got out of the jam to end the inning on a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch by the short stop.

Injury notes: Young studs Ashton Tedtaotao (hamstring) and Belauro (knee) are questionable for the gold medal game.

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COMING SOON …

QUICK HITS

After suffering a TKO loss on One 154, Brandon Vera left his gloves in the cage, symbolizing the end of his MMA career. Happy retirement Brandon!
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The Guahan Junior Barbarians represented Guam well in Singapore. The girls U18 took first place in their division in the 13th Centaurs International Youth Rugby Tournament while the boys captured second place playing ironman rugby with no subs.

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