Guam takes extra-inning affair, earns trip to semifinal round
Though Guam had not yet been defeated in pool play, a loss Tuesday to Canada would tie them with the Canadian team and jeopardize their chances of getting to the international semifinal.
Guam handled the pressure of the must-win situation just fine. It took them nine innings, but the team out of Hagatna, Guam defeated the Canadian team, 6-5, in front of 3,600 spectators at Lamade Stadium.
Guam finished pool play with a record of 3-0 and earned a spot in Thursday night’s International semifinal.
Early on, the game looked like it would be a pitcher’s duel. Both pitchers (Jesse Sawyer for Canada and Kristopher Kaneshiro for Guam) struck out the side in the first inning.
The latter innings would be a different story.
After Alejandro Diaz of Guam hit a two-out double over left fielder Michael Duessoy’s head, 188-pound third baseman Henry Salas crushed the ball over the right-center field fence to give Guam the early 2-0 lead.
Canada would battle back in their next at-bat. With two outs, Sawyer got things started with a single up the middle. After Spencer Bajnok walked, Kevin Kobe brought Sawyer home with a bloop single to left.
Another shallow fly, this time by Christopher Wilkinson, brought home Bajnok and Kobe. The two-RBI double put Canada ahead 3-2.
Kobe increased his team’s lead to 4-2 in the fifth inning. He sent a Kaneshiro pitch over the center field fence with two outs.
Guam, however, came right back. Derwin Aguon hit a home run in the fifth to pull Guam within one.
The champs from the Pacific then loaded the bases with two outs, but Sawyer was able to strike out Kaneshiro to get out of the jam and preserve the 4-3 lead.
With Guam down to their last out and Samuel Roberto on first, Aaron Sanchez hit a grounder to short. Matthew Schneider bobbled the ball, and during the throw over to first, Roberto headed for third. First baseman Matthew Nemeth overthrew the ball in his attempt to get Roberto at third, and Roberto came home, tying up the game.
In the first extra inning, Nemeth hit a grounder to short, which brought home Kobe.
Diaz crushed the first pitch that he saw in the bottom of the seventh. His homerun tied up the game at five runs apiece.
“As soon as I hit the ball I knew that we were going to win the game,” he said.
And two innings later, Sawyer walked in the game-winning run.
Though he was awarded the loss, Sawyer pitched a superb game. He used
186 pitches to strike out 19 Guam batters in his nine-inning complete game.
“(Sawyer) was doing a really good job against us,” said Guam manager Ramon C. Aguon Jr. “He pitched a really great ball game.”
- David Graham-Caso