Jones and company are hoping to avenge their finals loss Palau, which denied the CNMI back-to-back titles in 2010 after a 7-3 victory in the championship game in Koror during the 7th Micronesian Games. Besides the finals defeat, the Tony Rogolifoi-managed team also suffered two other losses at the hands of the host four years ago. Palau won in the elimination, 6-5, and the controversial semis match for the first finals berth, 5-3.
The 2010 champion was awarded the semis win despite falling behind the CNMI, 5-7, at the top of the seventh inning. Rain stopped the game and when it was time to decide the winner, Palau prevailed as organizers ruled that the final score to be considered in a rained-out game was after five innings and the host was ahead, 5-3, after the sixth before the CNMI rallied in the seventh. The CNMI eventually battled back from that fateful loss, beating Guam in the rubber match to earn a finals date against Palau.
The defeat to Palau, according to Jones, encouraged him to play harder the following year when the CNMI bag the gold medal in the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia and he has the same motivation in Pohnpei.
“Palau was a great learning experience for me. I learned a lot from playing against older and more experienced players. The 2010 Games helped me compete a lot better and have no fear facing the veterans. Thanks to Palau, it helped me dominate in New Caledonia,” said Jones, who starred in the CNMI’s 8-4 finals win over Guam in the Pacific Games.
Jones was among the latest additions to the CNMI Baseball Team that will compete in Pohnpei, which will host the Micro Games starting this Sunday until July 30. He found time to return to the island and represent the CNMI anew in the Micro Games after completing his stint with Colby Community College and signing up for an NCAA Division 2 school—the University of West Alabama.
The lefty pitcher believes his experience in the collegiate ranks will help the CNMI team’s cause this year.
“I am bringing what I learned from Colby College baseball to the CNMI team, especially my pitching drills. I will help the pitching staff a lot,” the Kagman High School graduate said.
Jones has been practicing with the squad for about three weeks and likes what he sees with his teammates, saying they have a pretty good chance of making it to the finals again and avenging their loss to Palau.
“The team is really sharp. We got a good mix of young and veteran players. I believe that the young players will compete and will hold nothing back against any Micronesian teams. We have great defense, offense, pitching, and of course our veteran coaching staff—Tony Tony Rogolifoi and Mel Sakisat,” Jones said.
The former Trojans pitcher added the young players on the team have speed, are smart runners, and are powerful hitters.
“They can possibly help us score more than ten runs per game. The athleticism is also there both at outfield and infield. The CNMI people and fans can expect us to compete in a very high level against the Micronesian Games top teams like our rivals Guam and Palau,” Jones said.
The baseball competition in the Micro Games will run from July 21 to 26 and July 28 to 29 at the Daini Field with Kosrae and host Pohnpei completing the field.