Sometimes, hard decisions pay off in the end.
Choosing senior pitcher Nacho Lozano to start resulted to an overwhelming win for the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles as they stifled the National University Bulldogs, 7-1, and took their fifth win of the season to lead the pack at the end of the first round, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
At the start of the game, it was still a toss up on who between senior pitcher Nacho Lozano and Luis Benedicto who will start it off at the mound. In the end, they went with head coach Bocc Bernardo’s choice of commencing with Lozano.
The Blue Eagles took it slowly as they got a run and another two in the second and third innings, respectively. Fausto Eizmendi started it off in the second with a single before he crossed the plate on an error by Bulldogs shortstop Sean Salaysay.
The lead went to 3-0 as Javi Macasaet hit a booming triple for the lead-off hit and then scored off a Gino Tantuico single, before the latter also reached home off another single, this time off catcher Dino Altomonte.
However, it was the seventh inning barrage that sealed the deal for the Blue and White.
After conceding a run in the previous frame, Ateneo opened the inning with a Marco Mallari single. Salaysay then mistimed another catch and advanced both Mallari and Rod Bitong. Tantuico eventually doubled in the succeeding at-bat, scoring Mallari before Nico Batungbacal nailed the final score, sending Bitong to the plate.
It was the defense of the Blue Eagles that was the key as the Bulldogs could not add on that single run in the sixth despite having scattered six hits. The result was all because of the fifth-year pitcher Lozano’s spectacular game on strategic pitching and seven strikeouts against National U. Benedicto had his time on the mound, taking down NU’s Aeron Limon for the final out.
After their loss to the Adamson University seven days ago, knew that his wards have that urgency to bounce back. He said, “We have to do our gob. We should not rely on the results of the other games.”
“We should take every game as if it is a championship game, because we can win the championship but we have to continue doing what we do.”