The National University Lady Bulldogs had an outstanding opening day outing while the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles had looked helpless in the same day. Mainly on that, many would think that the Lady Bulldogs would have an easy time disposing of the Lady Eagles.
However, in the most exciting game of the early season so far, Ateneo, through Ira Nevalga, fought tooth and nail against NU. But they fell short, as the Lady Batters from Jhocson Street survived a gallant Ateneo stand, 2-1, Monday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
It was a baptism of fire for National University rookie pitcher Mary Ann Ramos as she manned the National U fort. “We gave her rest kasi nag-pitch siya nung first game namin against La Salle so we need to rest her arms,” NU head coach Edgar delos Reyes said about not playing Mia Macapagal. “We might need her sa mga susunod pang game so as much as possible binibigyan pa namin ng pahinga.”
The Lady Bulldogs were able to get on the scoreboard at the top of the first inning. Lead-off batter Dyan Arago survived two quick strikes due to a catching error by Ateneo’s second basewoman, giving her first base. A single by Shaira Damasing gave the Lady Bulldogs second base. With two outs, rookie Aimee Watson popped a single while a failed fielder’s choice paved the way for an Arago run.
The lady batters from Katipunan were able to take the point back at the bottom of the second inning. Kat Villareal quickly connected with a single, while a sacrifice bunt by Cheska Imperial moved her to second base. A failed fielder’s choice and a catching error by pitcher Colleen Alilin led to a Villareal run to tie the game at a run each.
Nevalga settled in during the middle innings, not allowing successful hits in the next two innings. However in the fifth inning, Carla Payapaya, the last in the batting order, gained base due to a throwing error by Yla Trinidad. A single by lead-off batter Arago led to NU’s second run of the game.
“Error lang namin siguro mga dalawa o tatlo. Yung isang error ng third si Yla, throwing errors sa firts yun lang,” Ateneo head coach Dione Macasu said. “Tapos sa short stop throwing error lang din kaya ayun medyo light error lang naman yung nangyari today.”
Her counterpart, Ramos, only allowed two hits in the six innings she pitched and was able to strikeout three batters.
Fatigue though set-in for Nevalga in the sixth inning. The Ateneo junior gave up two singles in the inning. With Watson and Alilin gaining the third and second base respectively, and with two outs, the Ateneo fielders were able to save the inning in grounding out Nicole Ordoyo.
With NU leading 2-1 at the bottom of the seventh and final inning of regulation, Ramos was subbed out for sophomore Rina Vailoces. Clariel Dacanay popped a single to start Ateneo’s comeback attempt. She immediately replaced pinch runner and rookie Anna Lacson. With one out, Angela Natividad connected with a single that moved Lacson to second base. Nikki Borromeo’s attempt was caught at right field, downing Ateneo two outs. Ordoyo then successfully pitched two strikes against Ira Nevalga. With the game on the line, the super senior popped the ball to center field where it bounced off the ground. Lacson then ran to third base but hesitated to run to home plate but did so. However, that moment gave the Bulldog defense time to recover and put out at homeplate to give National University the win.
“Medyo late lang siya nakaleave ng base kaya inabutan siya,” Macasu said about the final play and rookie pinch runner Lacson. “Pero kasi two outs na talgang patayan na going home so ayun sinabi ko nga sa kanya dun sa mismong runner na lesson learned.”
“Siguro this is just one of our bad days,” Delos Reyes said. “Medyo yung hitting namin ngayon di nagclick di katulad nung last time when they were hitting the ball.”
“Ganun talaga nangyayari sa game eh. I’m glad na yung puso at yung tapang nung players ko lumabas dito,” he continued. “Kasi ito mas gusto ko yung ganitoing klaseng game eh. Dito mo matetest yung tibay ng loob ng players mo.”
For the Lady Eagles, they gave it their all out there and made their head coach proud. “Ang NU ay isa sa mga top teams din kaya maganda good job naman yung view nila today compared dun sa first game na against sa UP na talagang nagimprove sila ngayon,” she enthusiastically said.
She then singled out Nevalga’s performance. “Yung pitcher namin talagang maganda yung pinitch niya. Sabi ko nga sa kanya talagang nagstep-up siya,” she shared. “Nagawa naman niya kaya nakakatuwa kasi kung di naman ganun yung pinitch niya baka matambakan din kami diba.”
The National University Lady Bulldogs next face the University of the East Lady Warriors, while the Ateneo Lady Eagles face the UST Tiger Softbelles. Both games will be played on Wednesday, February 3 at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
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