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ROYALS WIN INSTANT CLASSIC BASEBALL TITLE 4-3

Leon Guerrero complete game championship performance

By Patrick Lujan

In an amazing performance by both teams and lots of dramatic action, the top ranked Notre Dame Royals delivered a 4-3 win to take the ISA Baseball League championship over the FD Friars.

Ricky Leon Guerrero locks his eyes at his pitching target. (photo by Christine Bansil)

Ricardo Leon Guerrero II tossed a complete game with 130 pitches, striking out 11 while hustling to score two of the four runs, including the game-winning slide.

“Honestly, I don’t even know how to feel,” the senior pitching horse said shortly after the game. “It’s the first time we’ve been in this situation.. We were in (the championship games) two years ago and a year before that. We just had to use all the experiences we had to take home the win and bring history down to Talofofo.”

The Friars came into the matchup as two-time defending champions and had ace Ayden Aguon dealing alongside Leon Guerrero.

After two scoreless innings, FD struck first with two unearned runs in the top of the third, forcing Leon Guerrero to labor through 34 pitches in the inning.

With the momentum with the Friars in the first base dugout, ND scrapped back with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Leon Guerrero got things going with his second hit of the day. He would score the Royals’ first run, hustling from third off a Kyle Yoon sacrifice line drive to first.

A well-timed double steal from Matt Elm and Elijah Asuncion scored the second run for ND that tied the game at 2-2.

FD countered back in the 6th inning when Zach Muna ripped a shot down the left field line, scoring Evan Acosta from first as Muna strolled into third with a standup triple – erupting a roar of approval from the Friar Nation.

As they did in the third inning, the Royals responded in the bottom of the 6th to knot it up once again at 3-3 when Zhavier Panes dropped a perfect bunt, fielded by Aguon and in a rush, the throw to first went off into foul territory as Ty Leon Guerrero scored to tie it at 3-3.

The Royals weren’t done as they scored the go-ahead run on an FD infield error off the bat of Yoon as RLGII hustled home of what would be the game-winning run.

With the 4-3 lead in hand, Leon Guerrero marched to the mound in the final inning to finish what he started. There was no doubt he wasn’t going to be relieved.

“I’ve been in these tough situations before,” RLGII said. “I wasn’t as stressed. I knew what I had to do and I knew I had to accomplish it and execute.”

Leon Guerrero struggled a bit, allowing the first two runners on board, but a 5-4 double play by Elm at third base put the Royals one out away from the title.

Leon Guerrero then calmly struck out Vance Meno for the third time in the game to send the Royals bench and crowd into a frenzy.

After informing RLGII how many pitches he had thrown, he said, “130? I’m going to feel it tomorrow.”

The Notre Dame Royals are crowned ISA 2023 Baseball League Champions after a 4-3 game against the FD Friars. (photo by Christine Bansil)

GAME SUMMARY

Top 1st

ND’s Ricardo Leon Guerrero II gets the start with first pitch time of 1:21 pm

FD’s Zach Muna leads off with a full count, opposite field single to right. He advances to second on a throwing error by catcher Zhavier Panes.

Saez Alvarez takes another full count to left field on a full count to put runners at the corners with no outs. Alvarez would steal second to put both runners in scoring position with no outs.

RLGII settles down, striking out Ayden Aguon swinging, getting Koley Taitague to ground to the pitcher and striking out Landen Minor on three high pitches. RLGII walks off the mound pumped up. 0-0

Bottom 1st

Ayden Aguon is on the mound for the Friars.

ND leadoff hitter Panes strikes out looking on four pitches. RLGII steps to the plate and drills a single up the middle past a diving short stop.

Asuncion with a high flyout to center for out number 2. Kyle Yoon strikes out swinging on three pitches. 0-0

Top 2nd

RLGII threw 25 pitches in the first inning.

FD’s Vance Meno strikes out swinging on three pitches. RLGII 11 straight strikes.

Evan Acosta strikes out looking.

Luke Perez strikes out swinging.

RLGII strikes out all three batters on only 10 pitches. He’s dealing!

Bottom 2nd

Matt Elm leads things off. He reaches first base on a strike 3 passed ball. Ean Lizama’s hard hit right up the box, nice defensive play by FD 2nd baseman for the fielder’s choice.

With Collin Pangelinan at bat, Lizama steals 2nd. Pangelinan then walks on five pitches.

Ty Leon Guerrero steps up with two runners on. Beautiful bunt advances both runners. Aguon, however, strikes out No. 9 batter Kaleb Salas on three pitches. 0-0

Top 3rd

Kaiden Weakley leads off against RLGII and walks on five pitches.

Top of the lineup with Muna (1-1) at bat…strikes out swinging – RLGII’s 6th strikeout so far.

Lefty Alvarez (1-1) at bat – Weakley steals second. Alvarez on a full count, walks.

Aguon (0-1) gets a piece to right. Right fielder Ty LG can’t get a grip of the fly ball and drops it drifting right – Weakley scores from 2nd. 1-0 Friars.

Taitague (0-1) works a full count and walks – 3rd walk for RLGII this inning – loading the bases.

Minor (0-1) hits a soft fielder’s choice to short, driving in Alvarez. 2-0 Friars

Meno (0-1) strikes out swinging. RLGII gets out of a rough inning, giving up the two runs on 34 pitches.

Bottom 3rd

Top of the lineup for the Royals against Aguon.

Panes (0-1) grounds out to short. RLGII (1-1) with another single up the middle, his second hit of the game.

Asuncion (0-1) bunt to third, throwing error on the third baseman. Both runners get into scoring position with cleanup hitter Yoon (0-1) up to bat. Yoon hits a hard liner to 1st for the out, but RLGII hustles home to score the first run for ND. 2-1

Elm (0-1) walks on five pitches to put runners at the corners. Double steal by Elm and Asuncion ties the game 2-2.

Lizama (0-0) grounds out to third in this exciting championship game.

Top 4th

RLGII back on the mound. Acosta (0-1) leads off with a sharp single through the hole to left. Acosta safe at 2nd on a fielding error by Yoon. Perez (0-1) strikes out for the 2nd time.

Weakley (0-0) walks for the 2nd time to put two runners on. RLGII with 82 pitches so far.

Muna (1-2) takes a good ride to left, but the fielder is positioned well for out No. 2.

Alvarez (1-1) walks to load the bases and Aguon (0-1) up to bat. He grounds out to the 2nd baseman to end the threat. 2-2

Bottom 4th

Pangelinan (0-0) strikes out on three Aguon pitches to open the bottom half of the 4th.

Ty LG (0-0) walks on four pitches. FD catcher Acosta throws out Ty LG trying to steal 2nd. Salas (0-1) hit by pitch. Panes (0-2) drills a single down the 3rd base line. FD meets on the mound.

RLGII (2-2) lines out to left field to end the threat. We are still tied 2-2.

Top 5th

RLGII still on the mound for ND with 93 pitches through 4.

Taitague (0-1) strikes out on three pitches. Minor (0-0) strikes out swinging – 10th K for RLGII.

Meno (0-2) hits a sharp liner straight to 2nd for the third out. Still tied.

Bottom 5th

Aguon back on the mound for FD with 70 pitches through 4.

Tense father-to-son talk between Ricardo Leon Guerrero and Ricky Leon Guerrero as the game was tied 2-2. (photo by Christine Bansil)

Asuncion (0-1) drills a shot to 3rd – defensive play of the game so far as Weakley dives and fires across the diamond for the out.

Yoon (0-2) hard shot to first off the glove, hustle to first for an infield single and a steal. Elm (0-1) walks for the second time today. Royals try a double steal, but Yoon gets caught in between 2nd and 3rd for the second out.

Lizama (0-1) walks. Pangelinan (0-1) strikes out looking for Aguon’s 6th K.

Stilll 2-2

Top 6th

RLGII back on the bump with 107 pitches already.

Acosta (1-2) takes first pitch to 3rd, fielding error gets on base. Daethan Alcantara pinch hits for Perez and strikes out on three pitches.

Weakley is out for catcher’s interference trying to throw out Acosta at 2nd. Acosta goes back to 1st base.

Muna (1-3) rips one down to third – Acosta scores from 1st and Muna gets the RBI standup triple. 3-2 FD

Alvarez (1-1) strikes out on three pitches.

Bottom 6th

Aguon back on for FD with 90 pitches.

Ty LG (0-0) walks on six pitches. Evan Cali pinch hits for Salas. Gets hit by a pitch on his first look.

Panes (0-2) drops a bunt single, Aguon throwing error to first, scores Ty LG. 3-3

FD pitching change – Aguon finishes with 99 pitches, six strikeouts, six walks. Landen Minor comes in relief.

RLGII (2-3) intentional walk to load the bases with no outs.

Asuncion ground out to third – 5-2 double play by Weakley (another spectacular defensive play).

Yoon (1-3) sharp hit to 2nd…fielding error by 2nd baseman and RLGII hustles home to score the go-ahead run. 4-3 Royals

Yoon with uncontested steal. Elm (0-1) strikes out to end the inning.

Top 7th

Here we go! Royals going to stick with their horse RLGII on the mound with 117 on his pitch count, facing FD’s 3-4-5 hitters.

Aguon (0-2) works the full count and takes the base on a HBP.

Taitague (0-2) bunts – catcher Panes throws high to second – both runners safe.

Minor (0-2) drills a shot to 3rd, caught by Elm – he gets Aguon leaning off 2nd. Double play!

Meno (0-3) strikes out swinging. ROYALS WIN!!!!

In the 3rd place game, the Tiyan Titans beat the GW Geckos 7-5 earlier in the day.

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QUICK HITS

Shawn Bamba won the Arizona state wrestling championship while siblings Jussiah and Justyn took third place in their divisions at state.
Shawn (12th) won the 150-lb division while Jussiah (11th) took bronze in the 120-lb class and Justyn (9th) took bronze in the 106-lb category.
All three were born on Guam before moving to Surprise, Arizona in 2014, where they all picked up wrestling in 2016.
Their parents are Justin and Shannon Bamba from Pago Bay.
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Christian Delos Santos, son of Richard Delos Santos (Barrigada) and Norma Larimer Delos Santos (Dededo), won the Kentucky High School Athletic Association wrestling state championship in the 113-lb weight class.
His sister Naiya took 3rd place in the 100-lb girls division.

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