With the elimination rounds of the UAAP Baseball Tournament concluded, it is back to square one for the DLSU Green Batters and the AdU Soaring Falcons as they are set to compete for this year’s crown.
Sporting a 9-1 record, the DLSU Green Batters had the best record in this year’s tournament. On the other hand, while many expected the defending champion ADMU Blue Eagles to be back in the finals, it is Adamson that finished with the second best record in the league, 7-3, to earn a spot in the best-of-three finals. Both of last year’s finalists, Ateneo and UST, were unable to make it back to the championship round.
Regular season match-ups
The two teams met twice in the elimination rounds, with La Salle earning victories in each of the two meetings. In their first meeting, it was Green Batter Kiko Gesmundo that led the charge for DLSU. He went the distance, striking out eight batters and giving up just four hits. His counterpart from AdU, Michael Catalan, was equally as good, albeit not playing the complete game.
The entire Adamson pitching staff, however, held DLSU to just two hits in nine innings. The Green-and-White would then earn the win, 3-2, after Josh Salinas came in to score a run in the eighth.
While DLSU and AdU would meet again in the season’s last game, it was a non-bearing game as both teams had already clinched a spot in the finals. Nonetheless, DLSU won the game, 14-5.
Keys to winning
With both teams having high-powered offenses, the key for both is how well each of their pitching staffs are able to perform. Gesmundo is expected to start one of these games, but it will be interesting to see how Coach Joseph Orillana utilizes his other pitchers. Look for Arvin Herrera, Boo Barandiaran, and Diego Lozano to all receive the ball at one point in the series.
Another important key for La Salle will be the health of two of its most important sluggers, Ignacio Escaño and Cholo Dominguez. Last year’s Most Valuable Player has an injured wrist, while the latter has been sitting out with a pulled leg muscle. In their absences, though, many have stepped up to make-up for their production. In the game wherein La Salle eliminated Ateneo, the team combined for 13 hits, with Paolo Salud leading the charge with four hits, despite missing two of their best run producers.
DLSU should also make the most of its opportunities with runners on base. While they were able to win their first round matchup, they left 13 guys stranded, which could come back to bite them in another similar scenario.
On the other side, Adamson will rely on the heart of its order, Erwin Bosito, Steven Manaig, and Jerome Yenson, to carry its offensive load. The latter hit a towering two-run homerun in the two team’s first matchup that tied the game at the time.
Lastly, DLSU will have to limit its errors if it wants to win this series. The school’s one loss, to Ateneo 9-6, was one wherein defensive errors absolutely killed La Salle’s chances of winning. Shortstop Josh Salinas and Second baseman Anton Acuña will have to be steady up the middle for the Green Batters to earn their second championship in three years.
Game 1 of the finals will be on March 13, while Game 2 will be on March 16. If necessary, Game 3 will be played on March 20. All three games will be at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium at 12 nn.