With the Philippines’ back against the wall, the Blu Girls leaned on a staple to push them forward.
Ann Antolihao put on a masterclass on the mound, steering the Philippines to a 1-0 eighth-inning win over New Zealand to advance to the Final Four of the 2019 WBSC Softball Asia/Oceania OQT, Thursday afternoon in China.
“Yes we are lucky, but we worked hard to earn this victory and showed character to beat a higher ranked team,” an emotional Randy Dizer told WBSC.org.
Antolihao, a product of University of Santo Tomas, pitched all eight innings. She allowed just three hits while fanning three batters. The Cebuano threw a total of 168 pitches in the contest.
Then when the game reached the deep waters, the multiple-time UAAP Best Pitcher dug deep.
After hitting Kingsley Avery with a stray pitch that put two Kiwis on base in the eighth inning, Ancelle Van Moledorff flew out at third base. A quick throw by third baseman Sky Ellazar to MJ Maguad ousted pinch-runner Mikayla Werahiko for the double play.
Antolihao easily disposed of Mereana Makea to end the top end of the extra inning.
“We recovered each time we made an error. We have proved to people back home that we are a team to be reckoned with,” Dizer recalled about the HP called on Antolihao.
Chelsea Suitos delivered the winning hit afterward, connecting on a laser to right field to score designated runner Sierra Lange for the walk-off victory.
With the win, the Philippines joins China as the survivors of Group A. The two nations will advance to the Super Round to face Australia and Chinese-Taipei. The top team in the round will move on to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“We came here to make the Super Round and now that we made it, we are going for broke. We have nothing to lose,” Dizer vowed.
New Zealand ended its campaign at 1-2, while South Korea went home winless.
The Super Round begins on Thursday.