With head coach Egay Delos Reyes on their side, the young and fearless National University Bulldogs took down the Itakura Parts Philippines Corporation Nationals, 4-0, to clinch the last semifinals slot in the 2019 Philippine Baseball League Open, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Delos Reyes, who also coaches the Nationals, opted to guide his collegiate squad in this game and reminded the Bustillos-based team to just apply what they do in training. “Sabi ko lang sa team ko na just play their game. Wala masyadong pressure. Kasi the more you put pressure sa kanila, hindi lalabas yung game eh,” he said.
The veteran mentor had a point as IPPC had more of that pressure as they needed to win by a huge margin over NU if they wanted to go into the semis.
This mentality fueled the Bulldogs who connected in the third inning after two scoreless innings with a Ferdinand Liguayan single followed by a Nigel Paule hit. The two eventually reached home on consecutive errors from the Nationals.
This cushion was enough to lift the UAAP squad to the consequent win anchored on the stellar stint at the mound of MJ Carolino, Angelo Espinosa, and Rey Aranzanso who allowed the opponents to just three hits in the seven innings of the contest.
Despite the win, Delos Reyes hopes that the Bulldogs will continue working on their offense, especially against Group A winners Thunderz All-Stars in the Final Four on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“They [Thunder] have dominant pitchers so we have one week to practice kung ano yung kulang namin.”
Earlier in the day, the De La Salle University Green Batters and the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons closed their respective campaigns off contrasting victories.
The UAAP Season 81 champions decimated the Golden Sox with a combination of hits and capitalizing on the errors of the latter to take the win at 11-4.
UAAP Most Valuable Player Diego Lozano finished with two hits in three at-bats to go along with two runs. However, Vince Flores also had his impact on the same batting average, but his double in fourth inning blew the game open for the Green and White.
For the Maroons’ part, the young guns needed to shake off the younger players from the semis-bound Thunderz and take their first win this conference, 6-4.
The All-Stars chose to field in the Muntinlupa side which is coached by playing-mentor Bocc Bernardo in preparation for a tournament abroad.
The other semifinals match on Saturday pits the defending champions Adamson University Soaring Falcons and the Philippine Air Force Lawin at 8 a.m.