UAAP: Green Batters squander early lead in Finals Game One, fall to NU, 8-4

The DLSU Green Batters squandered an early 4-0 lead against the NU Bulldogs in Game One of their best-of-three UAAP Season 86 Baseball Finals earlier tonight, April 18, at the UP Diliman Baseball Field. The two-time defending champions La Salle eventually lost, 8-4, following an eighth-inning explosion from their adversaries.

Coming back for the crown

With senior left-handed pitcher Joshua Pineda getting the starting nod after not featuring in their Final Four matchup last Sunday, DLSU was on point defensively as they seeked revenge for their prior Round Two loss to NU.

La Salle locked up the Bulldogs throughout the first two innings, setting the stage for the Taft sluggers to put themselves ahead. National team standout Agon De Vera broke the ice in the bottom first, hitting a double. Catcher JR Samuel echoed with a runner-batted-in (RBI) single, sending his sophomore shortstop in, 1-0.

The bottom second saw the Green-and-White bats catch fire, with De Vera dinging another double to bat in right fielder Ezy Bautista, 2-0. La Salle then went up 3-0 in the following at-bat, with a sacrifice hit from Shinji Kajihara allowing JM Segui to round home. Following a Samuel single to load the bases, Pio Villamiel then added to the rampage with a ground hit past second base, which aided in another run to De Vera’s tally on the scoreboard, 4-0. 

The best opportunity early on for the side from Sampaloc came at the top of the third inning, managing to place runners on first and second bases. However, Bautista and De Vera connected on a nine-six double play to alleviate any danger—tagging NU with their second and third outs of that frame.

Losing control

Despite La Salle dominating the first few innings of the match, the fifth and sixth inning remained scoreless for both teams on the diamond as Pineda’s pitches were too tough for their opponents to handle that no Bulldog got the chance to round home. However, the Green Batters struggled to get on base but still remained comfortable with an advantage at the end of the sixth inning, 4-0.

At the top of the seventh inning, Pineda showed signs of fatigue in his arm after several extended at-bats. Kenneth Maulit’s strong hit allowed him to get to third base after a lapse in judgment in La Salle’s outfield. Gio Gorpido’s hit for the Bulldogs was caught by the Green Batters but batted in Kenneth Maulit, who had time to round home to score NU’s first point. A fourth throw allowed walks for the Bulldogs before a hit by Kent Altarejos allowed John Kiel Olazo to score NU’s second, 4-2.

Remaining cold at the bottom of the seventh, the Green Batters looked to halt the Bulldogs’ momentum at the top of the eighth as Peter Nonaillada took over from Pineda at the mound. His stint in Game One was brief as he allowed John Calanday on base—eventually scoring on Kevin Maulit’s single, 4-3. Kenneth Maulit followed, tying the game for NU, 4-all. 

Following this collapse, DLSU Head Coach Joseph Orillana made another pitching change, moving shortstop De Vera to pitcher. De Vera, however, was unable to stop the streak of the Bulldogs as they grabbed the lead, 5-4. With full bases to defend, La Salle was overwhelmed by Nigel Paule’s three RBI hit, all of a sudden turning the game on its head, 8-4.

At the bottom of the eighth, DLSU was shaken after all of a sudden losing control of the game they had led the majority of. But it ended quickly as Samuel was caught at first to end the bottom of the eighth inning with La Salle still trailing by four, 8-4. The Green-and-White fought bravely at the top of the ninth to stop the bleeding as they prevented the Sampaloc-based team from making any more runs. However, the Green Batters were unable to launch a comeback; their attempts at the bottom of the ninth were futile as they saw Game One of the Finals end in defeat, 8-4.

After this crucial loss, the Green Batters will look to tie the series in Game Two of the Men’s Baseball Finals as they fight for their hopes of a three-peat by staying alive on Sunday, April 21, at 4 pm at the same venue.

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

Daniel Quiroga

By Daniel Quiroga

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