DLSU Green Batter seniors bid a bittersweet farewell from the UAAP S86 diamond

The outgoing seniors of the Green-and-White’s UAAP baseball teams fondly look back on their respective stints and experiences as Green Batters.

The Green-and-White has long chronicled the UAAP’s diamond pitch as a formidable force as it consistently finished strong in its seasons. Only a decade after it joined the athletic conference, the Green Batters won their inaugural championship in Season 58. Despite being the most recent team to join the league, it has already cemented four championships by its 80th installation.

Keeping the winning tradition

Season 81 saw the Green Batters add another accolade to their stashed loot of trophies as Season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Diego Lozano and Finals MVP Kiko Gesmundo led a series comeback evasion from archrivals ADMU Blue Eagles to take their fifth Baseball crown. But, the pandemic struck as they were on the way to assert dominance in their following title defense campaign. Season 82 was canceled midway into its run, and the following Season 83 was not held altogether. Season 84, despite marking the UAAP’s long-awaited comeback, did not include a Baseball tournament. 

After being sidelined for several seasons, inevitably losing seniors, chemistry, and some sense of familiarity along the way, the returning UAAP Baseball teams seemed to be on an even playing field, all of them having to rebuild after years of no action. But despite the excruciatingly long wait, the firepower of the sluggers from Taft appeared to not have died down as Finals MVP Joshua Pineda boosted a successful defense of their title after Green Batters swept the Finals series against the other side of Katipunan, the UP Fighting Maroons, to clinch back-to-back titles for La Salle.

Being at the top for two consecutive seasons, the green jerseys were steps away from clinching a three-peat campaign as they remained the favorites until the Final Four sequences. Despite finishing the eliminations as the first-ranked squad, they were eventually swept by the fangs of the NU Bulldogs, letting go of their chances for a monumental third straight UAAP crown. Nonetheless, the squad from Taft continues to be one of the most prodigious teams in the league and will continue to be one to look out for in Philippine baseball.

Despite such a painful end, the six-time champions remained graceful in defeat as seniors Joshua Pineda, JM Segui, Marco Micael, Shinji Kajihara, Vince Flores, Joey Dunglao, Eric Garcia, and Amiel Baloro all made their final ceremonial lap around the pitch to mark the culmination of their prosperous collegiate careers. As such, The LaSallian garnered some words from the seniors as they shared their concluding thoughts and bid farewell to the Lasallian community after a commendable run with the Green Batters.

The Green Batters’ seniors reminisce on their journey as players as they now embark on a new chapter of their lives.

Leaving a legacy of success

The pandemic created uncertainty about whether this star-studded generation of Green Batters could have even stepped on the diamond. Getting the opportunity to play for La Salle was something that each of the seniors cherished. Pineda speaks on his mindset during the long hiatus caused by the pandemic, “Nung nag-pandemic kasi, ang prayer ko lang talaga makabalik sa mound, na kahit one last pitch for La Salle magawa ko man lang. Ang hirap nung hindi mo tiyak ‘yung future mo.”

(During the pandemic, my only prayer was to be able to get back on the mound and that I could at least throw one last pitch for La Salle. It was difficult because your future is uncertain.)

Having had the privilege to represent La Salle meant something different to each of the seniors. Micael expounds that playing as a Green Batter in the UAAP was his way of showing his gratitude for all the people who supported him in his baseball journey since he started playing. However, one thing the seniors shared was the enthusiasm to win for the Green-and-White, which pushed them to keep working hard to be ready for when their time in the diamond eventually came. They shared an unbreakable bond and were united in their combined goal of leaving behind a culture of success for the next generation of players.

Segui says that, despite the short two-year stint, “Playing for La Salle and contributing to the success of the team on the diamond has been an honor. Bringing pride and success back to the Green-and-White jersey is something I’ll always cherish.” 

For a few of the seniors, this sentiment ran deeper as they have been a part of the La Salle system for more than a decade. Dunglao explains that his love for the school has always been there, and every time he sings the alma mater hymn, it is a privilege. Meanwhile, Flores proclaims his pride in being part of the team that brought home success for La Salle baseball.

Collectively, the seniors express that their proudest moment will always be winning successive championships in Seasons 81 and 85, along with a runner-up finish in 86, leaving behind the blueprint for success for the future Green Batters that will come after them. 

The Bomb Squad’s seniors, signing off

While this may be the end of his collegiate baseball career, graduating outfielder Shinji Kajihara shares that he still plans to hold the game he loves close to his heart, given the place it has in his family: “My future plans are to support my younger brother’s baseball activities while I am employed.” 

Furthermore, he teases that the Kajihara name still has unfinished business in the UAAP diamond. He states, “My brother will also be playing baseball at La Salle. So even if I [will no longer] play myself, I would like to continue to be involved in baseball to help him and his teammates grow and contribute to their success.”

Each having their unique stories and backgrounds, Filipino-Japanese slugger Kajihara is one of many testimonies to the bond of the Lasallian family, expressing with emotion, “Thanks to your support and encouragement, I was able to have a good experience in my second home, the Philippines.”

After guiding the La Salle roster in his swan song as the team’s captain, Flores echoes similar sentiments of their unending gratitude, “Like always, I would like to thank the Lasallian community for their support for the baseball team. From the staff to the management, everyone treats [us] like family, and that is something I’m grateful [for].”

All of the seniors gave their blood, sweat, and tears for their alma mater, including UAAP Season 85 Finals MVP Joshua Pineda. Pineda made what was at first, an unexpected return for another year with hopes of adding to DLSU’s Baseball heritage. While his dreams of a third-consecutive championship were tampered, the lefty pitcher expresses, “Maraming salamat sa Lasallian community sa pagsuporta sa amin mula umpisa hanggang dulo. Binigyan niyo kami ng lakas ng loob sa mga oras na kinakailangan namin. Mahal namin kayo.”

(Thank you to the Lasallian community for supporting us from the beginning to the end. You gave us strength in the times that we needed it. We love you.)

Farewells are never easy, but the ace pitcher reassures with confidence, “Sa team, alam kong nasa tamang mga kamay kayo. Naniniwala ako sa kaya niyong gawin. Dito pa rin ako lagi para sa inyo naka support sa inyo.

(To the team, I know you are in the right hands. I believe in what you can do. I am always here to support you.)

As the Green Batters’ outgoing seniors begin the next chapter of their lives, Baloro says with pride, as they remain lifelong Lasallians and champions on and off the baseball field, “Never shall we fail!”

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