|NU (6-6, PS: 1-0), 4TH||3||2||4||0||2||11||9||0|
|DLSU (6-6, PS: 0-1), 5TH||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||4|
Last year’s second placers, the National University Lady Bulldogs, survive a slow start in the elimination round of this year’s tournament, and end up shutting out the De La Salle University Lady Batters to clinch the final playoff spot, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
DLSU started again with Jamica Arribas at the mound. Arribas walked NU’s lead-off batter, Dyan Arago. Second at bat, Kristine Acuña, then, slammed a triple to get NU on the scoreboard. Another triple, this time by Ghene Nietes, gave Acuña a run. A passed ball, a problem that plagued the Lady Batters the last few games, gave NU its third run of the game, courtesy of Nietes. Coach Joseph Estipular quickly pulled out Arribas for rookie Bernadette Benson afterwards, while Arribas moved to right field. After putouts of the next two batters, Mia Macapagal was walked, and a single by Baby Gequillo gave NU two bases once more. A fly out at second base by Colleen Alilin stopped the NU rally.
At the bottom end of the opening inning, NU went with rookie Rina Vailoces as pitcher. Vailoces was previously used in their second round matchup against the Lady Batters. Furthermore, Mary Joy Son was walked by Vailoces, while Vanessa Borbon connected with a single. After a ground out of Jen Gomez at third base, Son and Borbon moved to prime real estate, and threatened to score. Two consecutive fly outs of the next two batters stranded the two to end the inning.
In the second inning, two consecutive triples by Carla Payapaya and Dyan Arago gave the Lady Bulldogs another run. DLSU, then, subbed out Benson for Patricia Belarmino, the Lady Batters’ second pitching change for the day. Another run was picked up from a sacrifice fly by Kristine Acuña that gave NU a 5-0 lead to end the second inning.
The Lady Bulldogs from Sampaloc further extended their lead in the third inning. Shaira Damasing connected with a double to center field. Two costly fielding errors by the DLSU defense, then, gave Damasing a run. Coach Estipular had no other choice but to give the pitching duties back to Bernadette Benson. After a fly out of Colleen Alilin and a strikeout of Carla Payapaya, another costly fielding error by shortstop Judy Macatangay led to runs for Mia Macapagal and Baby Gequillo. Unfortunately, an injury occurred afterwards to break the momentum of the game. Third year player and solid outfielder, Ghene Nietes apparently injured her knee after batting a single. Nietes had to be subbed out for Clarifer Singh. The inning ended with NU having a commanding 9-0 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both teams, a triple pinch hitter, Sheenah Rayos, gave rookie Julie Tungol, subbing for Colleen Alilin, a run. Another error at shortstop gave NU its 11th run of the game to seal the game.
After giving up two hits in the first inning, NU pitcher Rina Vailoces gave up just two hits afterwards. In the game, only six batters from DLSU reached base with four of them left stranded. Only one runner was able to reach third base as well.
Dyan Arago led the NU offense with three runs and an RBI. Kristine Acuña and Ghene Nietes complemented the offense with two RBIs.
The National University Lady Bulldogs now advances to the first stage of the Stepladder playoffs on Wednesday, March 18 against the University of Santo Tomas Softbelles. Game will still be at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.