After a mercy-rule victory in their previous game against the NU Bulldogs, the DLSU Green Batters continued their hot streak, dominating the ADMU Blue Eagles, 21-8, in an extra-inning thriller that set the standard for the upcoming second round of the tournament. Taft’s finest sluggers were silent for the first six innings but were able to fight back and send the game to an extra inning with the help of Aragorn De Vera’s standout performance in the batter’s box and on the mound. At the top of the 10th, the Green Batters scored 14 huge runs to cement the victory with key at-bats from Renato Samuel and Joseph Alcontin.
The Green and White struggled early in the game even coming from their red-hot performance and three-game winning spree. The team from Taft was unable to capitalize on offense, repeatedly stranding their runners on base. They would put up a fight on defense, with catcher Renato Samuel throwing out three Blue Eagles caught trying to steal. Despite this, Ateneo scored five runs—one of which was an inside-the-park homerun from infielder Enzo Montemayor. Trailing, 5-0, the Green Batters’ dugout was far from ready to back down.
With one out in the sixth inning, Samuel hit a double to centerfield. During Vince Flores’ turn at bat, Samuel took his chances and stole home shortly before Flores was walked to give DLSU their first point, 5-1. After a single from John Mhark Segui, the bases were loaded for Julius Diaz to hit a pop fly that was dropped in the infield to cut ADMU’s lead to two, 5-3. Shinji Kajihara would then send two baserunners home with a line drive double to centerfield. The Green Batters were now at a stalemate with the Blue Eagles, 5-all.
Too close for comfort
The bottom of the sixth saw an immediate response from ADMU’s Joaquin Alcaraz, getting on base with a ground rule double. It was Javi Limpo who would help the Blue Eagles inch forward, hitting a sacrifice fly ball that would send Alcaraz home, 6-5. Down by a single point at the top of the seventh, Ignacio Escaño swung on the first pitch and hit a lead-off double for the Green and White. He then stole third base and eventually found his way home after Samuel hit a sacrifice fly ball, tying the game on runs once more at 6-apiece.
The team from Katipunan’s hot batting at the top of the seventh allowed them to successfully plant a runner at third base. Stepping into the box with two outs was lefty slugger Matthew San Juan, who would hit a one-run-batted-in single, yet again tipping the odds in the Blue Eagles’ favor, 7-6.
Both teams saw their offense stagnate in the eighth inning, with no runs scored for both sides. Action would continue for the Taft-based sluggers in the top of the ninth inning behind Escaño and Joshua Pineda’s base hits. The bases were loaded for Joseph Alcontin, but he was walked, tying the game for the third time, 7-all.
With a potential walk-off loss to the rival Blue Eagles on the line, De Vera showed heart in the bottom of the ninth inning. The ace would shut out the hopeful Ateneans, boasting two strikeouts and a routine groundout to the second baseman to send the game to extra innings.
“Normal na baseball game lang rin naman ‘to…wala nang rookie-rookie. Buti umayos naman yung pukol ko at tinulungan ako ng teammates ko,” shared the ace rookie De Vera, reflecting on what his kuyas and coaches had told him.
(This is just another normal baseball game…no more talk about being a rookie. Good thing I was able to fix my pitching and my teammates helped me.)
The stakes were high in the 10th inning. La Salle needed to break the tie on offense and successfully defend a lead at the bottom of the inning. After his heroics at the pitcher’s plate, De Vera would step into the batter’s box with one out and runners on first and second base. At this point, Ateneo could have still turned the double play. With a daunting task at hand, the ace pitcher struck a coolly-hit stand up double, bringing a runner home and giving DLSU the lead, 8-7.
La Salle overwhelmed the Ateneo defense with one out and the runners in scoring position. Quick-witted, the Blue Eagle coaching staff called for an intentional walk on cleanup hitter Escaño, loading the bases with green jerseys once again. With the added worry of a potential double play in the infield, Samuel would need to loft a hit to centerfield to ensure the DLSU lead. Samuel hit a line drive to centerfield for a two runs-batted-in single, which added to the score tally, 10-7.
Once more facing the threat of a double play with one out in the 10th inning, Pineda hit another rocket to centerfield to send two runners home, 12-7. Alcontin swiftly followed with a run-batted-in single, which was then followed by a walk with bases loaded. DLSU was now leading, 14-7, doubling their score at the end of the ninth inning. Only suffering one out, the onslaught continued as Kajihara hit another double to send three more baserunners home, followed by a one-run-batted-in single for Samuel that successfully extended their lead, 18-7. After a one-out dry spell for Ateneo, they were finally able to secure their second out after Escaño’s flyball was caught. Sitting on a comfortable 11-point lead, Pineda sealed the deal after dinging a deep hit to the outfield and scoring a three runs-batted-in inside-the-park homerun to put DLSU on top, 21-7.
Ateneo would score one more run to take care of Zach Peña’s triple at the bottom of the inning, but a 13-point lead was too much to overcome for the Blue Eagles.
“Alam naming kaya pa,” lamented DLSU Head Coach Joseph Orillana, who was confident in his squad’s composure and talent. The Green Batters have consistently scored numerous runs in the fifth and sixth innings of their prior games, but their 14-run 10th inning in today’s game was a fruit of their hard work.
(We knew that it was still possible)
“Continue yung momentum—walang titigil hangga’t hindi natatapos yung three outs,” added Orillana, making the case for a mindset that can help the Green Batters past any obstacle for the remainder of the season.
(We continued our momentum—no stopping until we get three outs)
After securing their fourth straight win in thrilling fashion, the Green Batters end the first round of the UAAP Season 85 Baseball tournament with a 4-1 win-loss record, tying for the top spot with the UP Fighting Maroons. The Green and White await the release of the second-round schedule before they return to the field in continuation of their title defense.