The National University Lady Bulldogs just finds ways to win.
In another cardiac game for the Lady Bulldogs, master tactician and National University head coach Edgar delor Reyes relied on prized recruit Mary Ann Ramos on defense and old dog Mia Macapagal on offense for a 6-5 walk off victory against the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Softbelles to keep their record unblemished.
The Lady Bulldogs immediately gained a 4-0 lead in the first three innings of the game largely in part to super rookie Aimee Watson. The Laguna-native opened up the scoring for the Jhocson Street lady batters right in the opening inning. With one out and Kristine Acuna and Colleen Alilin on base, Watson knocked a double to right field that brought in the two runners and put National U on the scoreboard.
In the third inning, Shaira Damasing opened the inning with a single while a sacrifice fly by the next batter by Acuna moved Damasing to second base. Alilin then connected on her second hit of the game against May Ann Antolihao to give NU two runners on base as well. 17 year old Watson again delivered with a single to bring home her senior while anoter single by Charles Tulalian brought home Acuna to give NU a 4-0 lead.
“Good thing yung comradery ng team din kasi parang walang rookie o senior sa team,” NU head coach Edgar delos Reyes said about his rookies. “Pareparehas lang at walang pressure.”
The Sandy Barredo-mentored squad had to regroup after giving up a run against Nicole Ordoyo due to two consecutive errors that paved the way for the run.
National U pitcher Rina Vailoces did not give up a single hit in the first three innings but fatigue set in on her in the next two. Hannah dela Torre connected on a double against Vailoces to open the fourth inning while an error by NU shortstop Lovely Arago gave next batter Celestine Palma base. With one out, UST’s cleanup hitter CJ Roa brought home the two runners with a double to center left field to cut the deficit to three runs.
Gaining the wave of momentum, senior Rachel Secor gained base to open the fifth inning. With one out, super senior and UST’s lead-off batter Kristine Lacupa moved to first base after a catching error at third base. De la Torre was able to bring home Secor with an RBI single while a sacrifice fly by Palma cut the NU lead to just a single run. Garde then popped a huge double to bring home Palma with two outs to tie the game at 5-all.
A visibly fatigued Vailoces had to be subbed out another one of National University’s prized recruits. Zambales-native Mary Ann Ramos, the best pitcher of the 2015 Palarong Pambansa, took to the mound to close out the game for NU.
“Sabi ko tiwala lang at eto yung pinagpraractisan natin,” Delos Reyes shared about what he told his rookie. “Huwag mag-isip tungkol sa pressure at huwag niya sarilihin dahil tulong tulong tayo.”
With both teams not securing runs in the next innings, the game was still tied at 5-all entering the seventh inning. Ramos displayed great poise even if she was facing the top of the UST batting order. Ramos and the NU defense knocked off the first two batters but Palma tried to instigate a two-out rally after a single. Garde was then able to gain base due to four balls to give UST two bases. Knowingthe power of Roa, Delos Reyes decided to intentionally walk the UST junior and risk loading up the bases. The strategy worked as they were able to tag out Roa in second base after a fielder’s choice to keep the game tied.
Delos Reyes though had to rely on a team veteran to bring home the win. With one out, Damasing connected on a huge triple to right field. Gaining prime scoring position, Acuna was subbed out for Mia Macapagal. Macapagal needed just two pitches against Antolihao before connecting with a single for a walk-off victory.
“Si Mia ang isa sa mga pinakareliable hitters ko. Hindi talaga namin siya gagamitin this game para makapahinga for Adamson. But we needed her hitting, I’m glad she delivered,” the first year NU head coach relayed.
Aimee Watson played another excellent game in going 2 for 3. She had 3 RBI’s in the game and connected on a single and a double. Both Damasing and Acuna brought in two runs as well.
Come Saturday, the National University Bulldogs will face the Adamson Lady Falcons in the battle of unbeatens in the second game of the day. “That will be our final test this round. But just as I said before, we need to treat each game like a championship game may it be Adamson or Ateneo,” the NU head coach closed.
On the other hand, the UST Tiger Softbelles (2-2) face the UP Lady Maroons (2-2) to close out the day on Saturday, February 13.