UAAP: DLSU Green Batters triumph over Maroons in UAAP 85 Finals, win back-to-back championships

La Salle had won UAAP’s last baseball title in Season 81 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking DLSU’s first ever back-to-back championships with their Season 85 triumph.

The DLSU Green Batters emerged victorious once again, winning Game Two of the UAAP Season 85 Baseball Finals, 8-4, earlier tonight, April 21, at the UP Diliman Baseball Field. La Salle had won UAAP’s last baseball title in Season 81 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, marking DLSU’s first ever back-to-back championships.

Subbing in with two outs and three walks into the first inning, Joshua Pineda picked up another Player of the Game award, leading to the lefty ace bagging the UAAP Season 85 Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Vincent Flores also brought home the Most RBI’s award for the season, recording 16 RBI’s to do so.

Going through the motions

Starting on the pitcher’s mound for DLSU was Peter Nonaillada, who managed to tag UP with two outs early before walking three hitters, loading the bases early into the matchup. After seeing his side in an unfavorable situation early on, La Salle Head Coach Joseph Orillana called on Game One hero Pineda. However, the Fighting Maroons were able to break the ice in the matchup, going up, 1-0, after another walk in the inning. Even so, the Taft-based hitters were able to grab the lead in the bottom of the first with two one-runner-batted-in hits seeing Julius Diaz and Lord Aragorn De Vera to reach home, 2-1.

After a scoreless inning for both sides in the second, UP managed to level the playing field after the unfavorable position of the sun hitting the right field glared at DLSU’s Pio Villamiel. This led to consecutive errors on the defensive play that allowed UP a single run scored, 2-all. At bat in the bottom of the inning, the team from Taft was unable to launch a counterattack, with two consecutive flies leading to routine catches for the UP outfielders.

Coming into the top of the fourth, the Green and White defense was a well-oiled machine. Iggy Escaño secured three outs at first base to keep the score untouched.

Loading the bases

Tied at the bottom of the fourth inning, the La Salle side would find their sweet spot in the batter’s box. It started with Vincent Flores hitting a single down the middle, followed by a walk for JR Alcontin. This made way for a well-lofted flyball from JM Segui that was promptly fumbled at center field to load the bases. With one away and the bases loaded, Julius Diaz hit the leather deep to center field which sent three runners home in the process. DLSU led then, 5-2.

After a change of pitchers for the Fighting Maroons and a walk on Shinji Kajihara, Escaño was able to get on base after an infield error and set up Lord Aragorn De Vera to clean up the loaded bases. He hit another rocket to deep center field with a two-runs-batted-in double. At the end of the fourth inning, the defending champions sat atop a five point lead, 7-2.

Sealing the deal

No runs would be scored in the fifth inning for both teams, but the Taft sluggers turned to their defense after growing a hefty lead. They flashed the leather as they made quick work of the Maroon side in the fifth and turned two outs in the sixth inning with a 5-4-3 double play to retire the side. Unfortunately, UP would disrupt the momentum and score two runs in the seventh, 7-4. This would not slow down De Vera’s swing who responded with a one-run-batted-in single at the bottom of the inning, 8-4.

After a scoreless eighth inning and a back-to-back championship on the horizon, the Green Batters were three outs away from victory. 

As one of the seniors of the team, Pineda knew he had an obligation to deliver in the last dance. On being sent to the pitcher’s mound just midway into the first inning, the Finals MVP winner says, “Ready na ready na ako kasi gusto na namin tapusin to para wala nang Game 3.” 

He indeed went on to show his eagerness to win by striking out UP’s first batter, delivering a pitch that resulted in a routine ground out, and his last pitch of the game led to a pop-up flyball in the outfield—culminating in another sweet championship victory for the Green and White, 8-4. 

“It’s an honor to lead this team, they showed up when we needed them the most. It was a tough season. I thank this opportunity to come back and [help] give La Salle its first ever back-to-back championship,” remarked veteran Green Batter Escaño after helping DLSU win another gold medal in consecutive seasons.

Despite delivering DLSU its first back-to-back championship and the fourth gold medal finish in his tenure as head coach, Orillana emphasized that champions must have more than just talent, “Dapat kayo rin ay maging magandang halimbawa sa baseball community…ang pagiging magaling na player is yung pagiging magandang ugali sa paglalaro.

Jaime de los Reyes

By Jaime de los Reyes

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

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