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Andy Tan anchors ADMU defense to move one step closer to three-peat

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“He likes playing under pressure.” – Carlos Laurel on Andy Tan

UAAP Season 76 Most Valuable Player Andy Tan (4-1) anchored the Ateneo defense in a 7-3 win over top seed De La Salle University Green Batters in the opener of the UAAP Baseball Championships last Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

Soon-to-be-awarded UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year and Best Pitcher, Boo Barandiaran (3-1) started the game for the DLSU defense. Lead-off batter for the Blue Batters, Adrienne Bernardo was walked after a full count. The Blue Batters loaded the bases soon after with an Iñigo Untalan single and a Matt Laurel walk. Furthermore, Dio Remollo reached first base after a fielder’s choice that led to a Bernardo run. Untalan was tagged for first out at third base. A fly out by Ryon Tionloc and a strikeout of Renzo Ramos ended the top half of the opening inning with ADMU up one run.

At the bottom half of the inning, DLSU lead-off batter, Paolo Salud was walked. With one out, a double by Gabriel Pineda gave Salud prime scoring position at third base. The bases were then loaded after co-captain, Carlos Munoz, was walked. A highlight double play by the Ateneo defense resulted to an unassisted out of Pineda at third base, and a throw to first base resulted to a Dino Imperial out to end the inning.

With two outs to open the second inning, rookie Radito Banzon popped a single. Furthermore, Adrienne Bernardo connected with another single that gave Banzon third base. A fielder’s choice that resulted to an unassisted out by Carlos Laurel of Bernardo that stranded Banzon at third base.

A two-out rally by the top seeded Green Batters gave DLSU a two run lead. With two outs, DLSU gained two bases when Joaquin Bilbao was walked by Tan and a Franco Hashimoto. A double by Paolo Salud and an error by ADMU center fielder Pelos Remollo gave Bilbao a run. A 2 RBI single by Carly Laurel gave DLSU a three run lead to end the inning.

After a scoreless third inning highlighted by two strikeouts by Tan at the bottom of the third, the Blue Batters scored three runs at the top of the fourth to regain the lead. With one out, Chip Esguerra was hit by a Barandiaran pitch. After a base hit by Pelos Remollo, Radito Banzon was hit by another pitch. Then with two outs, Boo Barandiaran’s pitches went wild once more in hitting Iñigo Untalan to load the bases, and gave Esguerra a run. Barandiaran had to be subbed out for one inning and was replaced by Kiko Gesmundo on the mound. Second ranked in RBIs for the regular season, Matt Laurel connected with a 2 RBI single to give ADMU a 4-3 lead.

A scary moment occurred in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Dino Imperial appeared to have dislocated his shoulder. Imperial got to first base after a fielder’s choice. Furthermore, the DLSU senior appeared to have strained the back of his leg on his way to first base. A pick-off attempt by Andy Tan to first base Ryon Tionloc resulted to Imperial diving for a safe. However, Imperial dove in awkwardly and hurt his shoulder. Imperial, unfortunately, had to be subbed out for pinch runner Quito Castro.

The defending champions extended their lead at the top of the sixth. With two outs to start the inning, two consecutive singles by Adriane Bernardo and Iñigo Untalan, plus a walk by Matt Laurel loaded the bases for ADMU. Dio Remollo connected with a 2 RBI double to extend the Blue Batter lead to 6-3. Laurel and Remollo were left stranded at scoring positions after a fly out of Ryon Tionloc.

At the top of the eighth inning and after giving up a double to Iñigo Untalan at center field, Boo Barandiaran was subbed out for Carlos Muñoz after 114 pitches. Two consecutive passed balls by Muñoz gave Untalan a run. The top of the eighth inning ended with two consecutive strikeouts by Munoz , and ADMU extending their lead to 7-3.

Andy Tan gave up two consecutive singles at the bottom of the eighth. Luigi Nolasco, from second base, attempted to steal home, but was caught by catcher Dio Remollo of a throw by Bernardo. Tan was then subbed out for former UAAP Junior’s MVP, Paulo Macasaet. After walking Cholo Dominguez, Macasaet struck out Joaquin Bilbao, and a ground out of Franco Hashimoto ended the inning.

Carlos Muñoz and the DLSU fielders shutout the ADMU offense at the top of the last regulation inning. It was apparent that DLSU was fortunate to have the top of the batting order batting at the bottom of the ninth. Paolo Salud grounded out to shortstop Bernardo for first out. After a single by Carly Laurel, Macasaet managed to strikeout Andrei Palacio and a fly out of Carlos Muñoz to second base ended the game.

In the seven full innings that Tan pitched, he only allowed an average of one hit per inning. His leadership on defense was clearly followed by the defending champions as they were able to limit the DLSU offense and stranding eight DLSU runners on base.

The former MVP knew he was starting this game as soon as the second round matchup against DLSU finished, and coach Randy Dizer had told him to prepare himself. “[The preparation] stopped because we’re on Finals week, but we still have our trainings like toss a little, long throws, condition yourselves, and a lot of running just to get the body going during exam week.” He added that despite his many struggles this season in comparison to his previous ones, the whole team motivated themselves knowing they have been in this situation. “We’ve been here before, we know how to handle this, and just play our game.” Ateneo has dropped their previous games, so the team members told themselves, “if you play your game, you’ll do well. And that’s we did today.” In those past games, the loss was due to subpar hitting, which is their best asset, so that was what they worked on. Nevertheless, he was also all praises for their defense, and lauded his team’s efforts to take the win. Going into the next game Tan said, “We want to play the same way. We go back to training tomorrow – light training. If something’s working, you don’t have to change it so we just have to maintain where we are.

The Ateneo offense was led by Adrienne Bernardo’s three runs, while RBI prince Matt Laurel had two RBIs for the game. Dio Remollo had three RBIs to compliment the offense.

Game Two of the UAAP Baseball Championships will be played on Thursday, March 12 at 11am. Game will still be played at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

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