Except for half an inning, Guam’s play against the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was nearly perfect.
On Wednesday at Paseo Baseball Stadium in the World Baseball 15U Oceania Qualifier, Guam defeated CNMI, 9-5.
With one out to go in the bottom of the seventh, CNMI loaded the bases. And with Cardi Borja representing the tying run walking up to home plate, ace reliever Terrel Santos had to take a seat. Santos, in the second inning, who was tasked with relieving Andrew Perez, bordered on perfection. During a 4-1/3 inning span, Santos retired 14 straight CNMI batters. But having reached the maximum allowable pitch count, after fanning seven batters, his day was done.
“It felt great,” said Santos, the winning pitcher. “It was pretty easy. All I had to do was just throw strikes.”
With bases loaded, two outs and Borja poised to be a hero, Nolan Babauta took the mound. Babauta, In four pitches, struck out Borja and preserved the win.
In the first two innings, Team Guam cruised to a 5-0 lead. Franklin Ninete Jr., with three RBIs, led Guam’s attack.
“It felt good to pick up our bats,” said Ninete, who finished 2-for-3. “Our pitching wasn’t doing that well, but our defense came in and helped.
“We started to cheer our team on.”
CNMI, in the bottom of the second inning with five runs, answered back.
With the game tied 5-5, CNMI’s fielding mistakes finally caught up. Committing nine errors, walking five and giving up four runs off of two hits, CNMI unraveled.
At 3 p.m. today, CNMI looks for redemption against Team Guam. At noon in the Day 3 opener, New Zealand plays CNMI.