Host Philippines, represented by first-timer Sarangani, started its bid in the Asia Pacific Intermediate Baseball Tournament on a losing note, yielding to fancied Japan, 0-8, on a rainy Monday at Clark International Sports Complex at The Villages, Clark.
Still adjusting to competition at this level, the Sarangani batters couldn’t hold fort on defense in the fateful second inning, where they allowed the Japanese to rack up a seven-run binge from which they couldn’t recover.
Taisei Okui and Taketo Ikenaka pounced on successive passed balls by Phl to open scoring for Japan.
Yuma Hara made it 4-0 with a two-run double before Suguru Taniguchi dashed home while the Pinoys were picking off Seiya Matsushita.
Hara scored off a balk then Issei Yoshizaki drove in Komin Toda as Japan put the game beyond Phl’s reach in the first game of the tournament sponsored by Mister Donut and the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Maganda naman ang pinakita ng mga bata (They played well) considering this is our first time and we played Japan, which is used to playing in the World Series,” said coach Lord Ken Naval, whose Sarangani team is being cheered on by a contingent of supporters led by Gov. Steve Solon, Vice Gov, Elmer De Peralta, Maitum, Sarangani Mayor Alexander Bryan Riganit and Provincial Board members along with parents.
“We did our best. We were hitting their pitches but just couldn’t translate it to runs, and we had some catching errors,” he added.
Phl’s other representive, ILLAM, was playing Australia in the Senior League Baseball division at presstime.
Guam thwarted Seniors holder CNMI in the opener, 12-7.