Looking to make a statement, the DLSU Green Batters overpowered the gritty UST Growling Tigers, 11-4, yesterday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Diamond. For the second straight game, La Salle used its offensive firepower to overcome its opponent. Trailing at multiple points of the game, however, the Green-and-White had to gut out a comeback win against a UST team that was hoping for an upset.
Hitting from the clean-up spot, Ignacio Escano paced the La Salle offense, finishing with a home run and four runs batted in. In support were Les Cabiling and Diego Lozano, who each finished with two RBI, with the latter also drawing three walks.
When asked about the DLSU offense’s hot start to the season, Escano said it has all been a team effort. “We’ve been able to produce so many runs because our line up one thru nine is getting hits and having good at bats.” Continuing, he said, “Everyone is looking really comfortable at the plate right now.”
As for the pitching, Kiko Gesmundo started the game for the defending champions, giving up four runs, with Arvin Herrera and Lozano entering the game to close things out. On the other side, UST started the game with a left-handed pitcher, Ventura, who pitched good enough to keep the game close early on.
While the team from Taft entered this game as the favorite, the Growling Tigers immediately put the Lasallians on notice, after Daquis hit a booming two-run double to center field to give the team in yellow the early 2-0 lead. UST would once again have a golden opportunity to score at the bottom of the second inning, as it had men on first and second base, with only one out. Gesmundo, though, was able to lock in, striking out Mercado and getting Gonzales to fly out to get out of the inning.
After La Salle was able to get a run back in the third inning, the designated hitter, Escano, would knot the game up at two, with a line drive home run over the left field fence. Remembering the hit, the second year slugger said that he was just trying not to overthink things, explaining, “Well honestly, I wasn’t thinking about hitting a home run at all. Before that, at bat, just like all my other at bats, I was just thinking about getting on base and getting good contact on the ball.”
Unfortunately for DLSU, the celebration of the home run would not last long as the Growling Tigers subsequently took the lead back, after Pedracio drove in a man from second base. The UST lead would further to 4-2, after an ecstatic Calbang hit an RBI single to drive in the aforementioned Pedracio.
Looking at a two run deficit at the top of the fifth inning, the Green Batters knew this game wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Leading off, though, was Paul Naguit whose single to start the frame sparked a La Salle comeback. Highlighted by a Cabiling RBI double to tie the game, this was an inning in which the Taft-based squad took the lead, 5-4, and never looked back.
Following another three runs scored in the sixth inning, DLSU entered the top of the eighth inning looking to add a little insurance. And that they got, with the bases loaded, when Escano hit a double to drive in three more runs, furthering the La Salle lead to 11-4. UST would continue to fight until the last pitch, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
Getting contributions from up and down the line-up, DLSU was given a pleasant surprise when one of its rookies, Raf Pascual, stepped up in his first UAAP start, hitting a single and drawing a walk, that eventually resulted in the team’s first run. When asked about it after the game, the second baseman explained that while there were nerves, he only wanted to help the team win, saying, “It was a great feeling, accompanied with a sigh of relief, because I just wanted to do anything that I could to contribute to the team’s win.”
This victory was in no way perfect, and the team knows that. Equipped with a deep bench, however, La Salle has all the tools to repeat last year’s success, as it continues to work on its mistakes and build on its first two wins.
DLSU will have four days off, before facing its next challenger, the AdU Soaring Falcons. As of press time, they are expected to play on Sunday, February 12, at 1:30 pm at the same venue.