Coming off a rousing opening day win over Philippine Air Force last weekend, the veteran-laden Thunderz All-Stars needed a clutch performance from Justin Zialcita in a come-from-behind win over the University of Santo Tomas Golden Sox, 7-6, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila.
“Coming from a win against Air Force, medyo nag-relax yung team,” lamented Thunderz’s Aids Bernardo. “Good thing na as the game went on, doon lumabas yung pagiging beterano namin. Tulong-tulong talaga.”
Behind Raymond Vargas’ slugging, the All-Stars were down 4-5 heading into the sixth inning. Zialcita then came alive, blasting a clutch three-run double to put Thunderz ahead for good.
“He was in a slump. Pero like our team, diesel siya eh,” Bernardo remarked about Zialcita, a second baseman. “We knew that it would come at… We continued giving him confidence na mahahanap din niya yung palo niya.”
Bernardo, who pitched the 2 2/3 innings of the game, closed out the game with six strikeouts, sealing his second win in the 2019 Philippine Baseball League Open Conference.
With the win, Thunderz rose to the top of Group B with a 2-0 record in this tournament sanctioned by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Joining them at Group B’s pole position are the RTU-Alums Thunder, who defeated the debuting UP Fighting Maroons earlier in the day, 5-2.
Jay Pacudan steered the older generation of RTU batters, allowing just two hits when he was on the mound while going 3-of-4 at-bat on the other end.
In the last game of the day, the NU Bulldogs evened their slate to 1-1 in Group A after blasting the RTU Thunder, 9-5. The current RTU squad fell to 0-2.
Sunday’s triple-header will be headlined by a titanic clash between the KBA Stars and the IPPC Nationals. This will be followed by Ateneo taking on Adamson and UP facing La Salle.