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“Our seniors don’t want to lose on their last year.” – ADMU Head Coach Randy Dizer after their first win of the season against the UP Fighting Maroons
The Blue Eagle seniors, Aids Bernardo, Chip Esguerra, Matt Laurel, Pelos Remollo, Andy Tan, and Iñigo Untalan, have succeeded in starting a winning Ateneo baseball tradition; sweeping the De La Salle University Green Batters in the UAAP Season 77 Baseball Championships to win three straight Senior’s crowns on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
According to Coach Dizer, Andy Tan was supposed to start again in Game 2 of the Finals, but Tan was not able to practice last Wednesday due to class. To replace Tan, the Blue Eagles started with sophomore Miguel Dumlao as pitcher. For the Green Batters, Kiko Gesmundo, a rookie from Marist School, was assigned as starting pitcher.
The Blue Eagle defense made quick work of the first two DLSU batters with two consecutive ground outs to Ateneo shortstop, Adriene Bernardo. A catching error by ADMU center fielder, Pelos Remollo, gave Boo Barandiaran first base. After a double by Carlos Muñoz that gave Barandiaran prime real estate to score, a throwing error by third baseman, Matt Laurel, led to a Barandiaran run before Carlos Muñoz was tagged out at third base for last out.
After a 1-2-3 of the Ateneo offense at the bottom half of the first, the Green Batters doubled their lead at the top of the second inning. Lead-off batter, Cholo Dominguez popped a double to open the inning. After ousters of Joaquin Bilbao and Andre Palacios, another Ateneo error, this time by shortstop, Adriene Bernardo, led to a run courtesy of Cholo Dominguez. Dio Remollo almost had a chance to put Ateneo on the scoreboard at the bottom of the second, but was tagged out at home after a dropped third strike. The inning ended with DLSU still up 2-0 over the defending champions.
Miguel Dumlao managed to settle down in the next two innings in holding the Green Batters scoreless. Adriene Bernardo placed the Blue Eagles on the scoreboard coming from an RBI single by RBI king, Matt Laurel, at the bottom of the third.
DLSU almost had a chance to further extend the lead in the fifth inning. After singles by Paolo Salud and Carlos Muñoz, Salud was able to steal third base, and Salud gained second. However, DLSU already had two outs at the time, and Dumlao was able to strikeout Gabo Pineda for third out stranding the two runners.
Former Most Valuable Player Andy Tan retired Dumlao on the mound at the top of the sixth inning. Tan would hold the Green Batters scoreless in the inning.
At the bottom of the sixth inning, a fatigued Kiko Gesmundo gave up two consecutive singles to Iñigo Untalan and Matt Laurel. Dio Remollo hit a sacrifice bunt to move both runners to prime scoring positions. A throwing error by first baseman Carlos Muñoz led to runs by Laurel and Untalan to give the Blue Eagles their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Pelos Remollo almost had the chance to add another run at the top of the seventh inning. With one out, the graduating Remollo popped a double to left field. A sacrifice bunt by Radito Banzon moved Pelos to third base and forced DLSU Coach Joseph Orillana to call a timeout. Carlos Muñoz was released from the bullpen to replace Gesmundo on the mound, while Gesmundo moved to third base, and Barandiaran moved to first base. The DLSU closer was able to strikeout Aids Bernardo for last out thus stranding Pelos at third base.
After holding the Ateneo Blue Eagles scoreless in the eighth inning, the DLSU offense needed at least two more runs at the top of the ninth to keep their championship hopes alive. Graduating senior, Dino Imperial made an appearance, after badly injuring his shoulder during the first game of the Finals, to replace Andrei Palacios at bat. Imperial was hit by a Tan pitch to move him to first. Imperial drew a standing ovation as he was subbed out for pinch runner Ricardo Yulo. Yulo managed to move to second after a sacrifice bunt by Franco Hashimoto. Yulo was, then, forced out at third base after a fielder’s choice that gave Paolo Salud first base. Aids Bernardo then forced out Salud at second base to seal the three-peat for the Blue and White squad.
After the game, Ateneo Baseball program director, Coach Randy Dizer told us that this was the hardest of the three championships. “The seniors know that I am relying on them, but this is the hardest, because the hardest part there is to control yung anim to stay on the ground, na hindi sila superstar,” the three-time champion Randy Dizer told us. “They have to play as a team dahil kailangan sila ng rookies, sophomores, and the juniors of the team.”
“The only way this team can win is by them staying sa ground and for the whole season they did,” Coach Dizer concluded.
The now three-time UAAP Baseball Champions only connected with just five hits in the game compared to La Salle’s six. But what set them apart was the way the Blue Eagles took advantage of errors committed by the DLSU fielders, especially in the pivotal sixth inning. Moreover, just like in Game 1, DLSU closer Carlos Muñoz entered the game with Ateneo already gaining the lead which proved too late as seen in the results of the two games. The Ateneo fielders also left a total of nine runners on base in the game with five of the runners stranded at second base and one at third base during the fifth inning.
RBI leader and graduating senior Matt Laurel led the team on offense with two runs and an RBI. On defense, first basemen Ryon Tionloc ended his solid defensive season in putting out seven runners.
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