The defending UAAP baseball champions, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Batters, grinded out another win last Wednesday with an 8-6 win over their Katipunan neighbors, the UP Fighting Maroons, at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Right in the 1st inning, the UP Maroons exploded to a quick 2-0 lead over ADMU. 4th year batter Andrei Herrera hit a triple that led to a Martin Senador and JM San Juan run. The defending champions then responded with a run of their own at the bottom of the 1st. Runs by Inigo Untalan, Matt Laurel, and Claudio Remollo gave ADMU a 3-2 lead to end the 1st inning.
UAAP Season 76 Most Valuable Player Andy Tan, still nursing a shoulder injury suffered in the pre-season, had a good outing in the 5 innings he pitched. Tan, after giving up 2 runs and 2 hits in the 1st inning, gave up only 4 hits and striking out one by the time he was relieved. In that same span, Ateneo logged-in 3 more runs, including two more from Matt Laurel and another run by Cladio Remollo.
In the 6th and 7th innings, another Laurel run, his 4th for the day, and a Dino Altomonte score extended the lead even further to 8-3.
Andy Tan’s reliever, Miguel Dimlao, only gave up two hits prior to the 8th inning. However, in the 8th, the 2nd year player struggled. A triple by Andrei Herrera opened up the top of the 8th. Another triple by JC Pantan gave UP its first run since the 1st inning. Pantan then scored after a single grounder by Joaquin Silvestre. The inning ended with UP cutting the deficit to just four runs.
Coach Randy Dizer then went to his rookie closer Paulo Macasaet to close the game for the blue side. Macasaet, however, gave up two runs in the 9th inning, courtesy of a 2RBI single by SJ San Juan that paved the way for a Karl Peralta and Martin Senador run. With the lead down to just two runs, Macasaet struck out Mikael Herrera and the runner to 2nd base was putout to seal the win for the defending champions.
Blue Batter Coach Randy Dizer told us that he was happy to see the team go through its up and downs the past two games. “If you start on the top immediately, there’s no place to go but down but if you go down, it goes up from there”, the champion coach told us after the game.
Coach Dizer also expressed his full trust to his rookie pitcher Paulo Macasaet. “Paulo is a big part of the team. He works as hard as the seniors of this team. He has been with us during the tournaments we attended abroad and all the pre-season tournaments we joined. Masipag siyang bata.”
To close out the conversation, Coach Dizer gave us a small preview of Sunday’s game. “Paulo will most probably start for us since Andy is still hurt with his shoulder injury.”
The Blue Batters will face the UST Golden Sox on Saturday, February 1 while the UP Fighting Maroons willl try to grab their first win against the NU Bulldogs, also on Saturday.