Kiko Gesmundo is a tough man to please.
During his sophomore year, the De La Salle University Green Batters won the UAAP Season 78 championship. But the product of Marist School was hardly a factor during that campaign.
“First year ko, pumunta kaming finals, injured ako. Second year, nag-champion, injured ako. Third year ko, injured rin, kaso ‘di naman umabot,” Gesmundo recalled.
“May kulang eh. Bakit lagi akong injured sa Finals?”
Then in his senior season, Gesmundo was the top dog not just on the diamond but also in the entire UAAP, winning both MVP and Athlete of the Year honors. However, La Salle were swept in the Finals by the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
“Mas maganda maging champion kaysa makakuha ka ng individual award eh. Kasi makikita mo yung team mo na nagpapakahirap tapos ikaw lang makakakuha ng award,” he said. “Hindi naman sa hindi ako masaya, masaya rin.
“Pero mas masaya yung makukuha niyo na sama-sama kayo, konti lang makakakuha. Iba talaga ang feeling kapag nagcha-champion.”
In his final year, Gesmundo struggled all throughout the season, bothered by a shoulder injury that he sustained during the Philippine Baseball League.
But in his final UAAP game, he needed to gut it out.
A night before Game Three of the Baseball Finals, head coach Joseph Orillana was pondering whether he would choose Boo Barandiaran or Gesmundo as his starter. Both of them are seniors.
“Hindi ko inexpect. Sa training kami ni Boo pinagpipilian, dapat si Boo nga eh. Nagulat na lang ako na ako nag-start,” he disclosed.
“Pagpasok ko sa DLSU ako nag-start, pag-exit ko ako pa rin nag-start.”
Gesmundo pitched seven innings in the contest, allowing nine hits that resulted in seven runs. Definitely a high count by all accounts.
“Sobrang laki ng tiwala ni coach sa akin. Kanina pagod na ko pero sinabi ko kay coach kaya ko pa,” he shared.
To make up for it, Gesmundo torched the Ateneo defense by going 3-of-4 at-bat. But none bigger than his final at-bat for La Salle.
With the game knotted at 9-all in the ninth inning and with two outs, Gesmundo slammed a clutch home run that punched in two runs. This, despite pitching seven innings against a high-powered Blue Eagles squad and under the heat of the summer sun.
“Ayoko lang talaga ma-out nung inning na yun. Hindi mangagaling sa akin yung last out. Gusto ko na maka-hit ako sa last at-bat ko,” he said, as La Salle escaped with an 11-9 win to cop the Season 81 crown.
“Hindi ako papayag na masisilat pa ako sa last year ko.”
Gesmundo was adjudged the Finals MVP. But more importantly for him, he got to celebrate with his brothers-at-arms.
After five years with the Green Batters, Gesmundo can finally say that he has given La Salle a championship.