The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons suffered a huge loss last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
In a pivotal match-up pitting UP and the De La Salle University Lady Batters that saw the Lady Maroons fall 4-2, last season’s runners-up also lost a vital piece in their campaign as rookie third basewoman Juliet Omul dislocated her elbow early in the game that might force her to sit-out the season.
Both teams shut each other in the first two innings of the game. However, disaster struck for the Lady Maroons in the opening inning. With two outs, third batter Juliet Omul connected against a Jamica Arribas pitch and tried to gain base. In trying to gain base, Omul dove to base but she took a bad fall. The rookie from Misamis clutched her right elbow and had to be taken out of the game. According to team captain Gabin Paz, their third basewoman dislocated her elbow and, unfortunately, might miss the rest of the season. With Omul out, Gayle Suelto was placed at third base during the second inning.
The Lady Maroons picked up the first run of the game during the third inning. After Arribas struckout Maki Cabriana, Ella Martinez and Jhen Alinsod connected on back-to-back singles to gain base. A throwing error by Hya Abanilla let the two runners gain prime real estate later on. With lead-off batter Gelai Penales connecting, the DLSU fielding tried to make a play at home but Martinez was able to gain base to give UP a run.
The Lady Batters, finding their offense in their last games, blasted the UP defense at the top of the fourth inning. A single by Mary Joy Son opened the inning while a throwing error by Suelto gave Judy Macatangay base. A sacrifice fly by Jen Gomez moved the two runners to prime scoring positions. A fielders choice attempt by UP gave Son a the tying run. A single by Pat Belarmino after led to two more runs. Another failed fielders choice attempt by the Lady Maroons resulted led to Belarmino gaining home to give La Salle a 4-1 lead to end the inning.
“Ang batting namin mababa yung stats,” La Salle head coach Alex Estipular said after the game. “Gumawa na lang kami ng strategy para makadagdag ng run. I had to push them na yung opensa talagang gumana. They had to chase the bunt, light bunt.”
The La Salle defense solidified in the latter innings. It was greatly displayed at the bottom of the fifth inning when the Lady Maroons tried to spark a rally. With one out, Jhen Alinsod connected with a triple. After Penalas was knocked-off at first base, the UP defense was able to tag out Alinsod at home to save the inning.
“Critical inning yung fifth and seventh inning. Nakita namin na may tao sila sa second base so it’s only one out,” Estipular said. “Na-hold namin yung batter-runner.”
After going scoreless in the final inning, the Lady Batters needed to make one stop to keep their playoff hopes alive. A double by Kier Ferrer opened the final frame for the Diliman-based squad while a single by Maki Cabriana followed. After a flyout of the next batter, a sacrifice fly by Jhen Alinsod brought home Ferrer to cut the deficit to just two runs. However, Penales was knocked-off at first base to seal the game.
Pat Belarmino carried the La Salle offense. Even in going just 1 of 3 at-bat, she was able to pick-up a run and, more importantly, bring home 2 RBIs. Moreover, she played excellently on the other end as well with nine putouts as the team’s first basewoman.
Looking forward to their next game against Adamson, Estipular noted that they only lost the game 4-0. “Error lang. Babalikan namin yan,” he said. “Ganun talaga. We have to stay positive.”
The De La Salle University Lady Batters next face the undefeated Adamson Lady Falcons on Monday, February 29 at 7:00am. On the other hand, the UP Lady Maroons have little to no margin of error left. They face the UST Tiger Softbelles on the same day at 1:00pm.
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