|DLSU (6-4), 2nd||0||0||1||1||0||0||3||5||10||3|
|NU (6-5), 3rd||0||0||0||2||0||0||3||6||10||0|
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
In this crucial match to keep their semis bid alive, the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs edged De La Salle University (DLSU), 6-5, last Wednesday, March 4 at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
NU made a gamble in this game and started freshman pitcher Rina Vailoces in lieu of sophomore Mia Macapagal. It paid dividends early on as the DLSU batters were caught off guard. Vailoces allowed only one hit from La Salle veteran Mary Joy Son and also struck out Patricia Belarmino in her first two innings on the mound. Furthermore, the Bulldog took matters in her own hands early on as she was able to assist in three dismissals.
DLSU on the other hand kept rookie sensation Jamica Arribas as their starting pitcher. After NU junior Lovely Arago had a base hit, the Lady Archers worked their defense that left Arago stranded on second base with Arribas fanning out Lyn Tulalian. In the following inning, Macapagal had another hit against La Salle but it is all NU could muster as the inning ended scoreless.
At the top of the third inning, La Salle got on to the scoreboard. After Macatangay struck out, three consecutive hits from the Taft-based squad put them on top. Muñoz started it off with a single to left field followed by another base hit from Mercynell Arroyo. Vanessa Borbon hit a double to left-center to score Muñoz, which made it 1-0 for DLSU. Arroyo was left on a scoring position at third base as NU retired the next two batters.
In the top of the fourth inning, Belarmino shook of her previous at bat and made a leadoff single for the Green and White. Jen Gomez then hit a fly out to NU shortstop Arago, but Belarmino quickly reached to second base while the ball was in flight. With a runner on scoring position, Judy Macatangay hit that ball to deep right for a double to score Belarmino which doubled La Salle’s lead, 2-0.
Sensing the need of urgency, NU got their offense going at their side of the fourth. Baby Gequillo hit a single to start if off for the Bulldogs. Macapagal had another base hit loaded for the Bulldogs. A passed ball off DLSU catcher Gomez scored Gequillo to cut the deficit to 1. In spite of a good defensive play that retired Macapagal, another passed ball scored Colleen Alilin who reached first on fielder’s choice, which put NU and DLSU on equal footing after four, 2-2.
Defense held up in the next two innings for NU, limiting DLSU to a single hit. Vailoces anchored her defense well while the Bulldogs infield got busy in preventing any Archers attack. Only Arribas was able to hit for La Salle as all others were dismissed on grounders.
La Salle also stood their ground as Arribas dismissed two successive batters in Whell Nietes and Tulalian in their side of the fifth. An error by DLSU shortstop Macatangay, however, presented a scare to her squad when NU’s Shaira Damasing reached second base in the ensuing play. A caught fly to the center off Alilin ended the fifth still tied at 2-apiece.
NU’s momentum continued in the next inning with Sheenah Rayos entering the game for Payapaya. The second-year Bulldog hit a line drive near the right foul line to keep the ball rolling for her team. Another error, this time by DLSU second baseman Son, puts Rayos and Arago on second and first, respectively. Several miscues of La Salle in the succeeding plays, helped Rayos score for NU and took the lead to 3-2.
With just a solitary run separating the team, the game was far from over. La Salle started their side of the final inning well as a visibly tired Vailoces gave up a leadoff walk on substitute Bernadette Benzon. After Arroyo grounded out to first base, Borbon hit another double that scored Benzon to tie the game once more at 3-all. This prompted NU to make the change to give their rookie Vailoces a much needed rest and let Macapagal take on her usual place in the field. La Salle however went on to score another with a single by Son. This puts Borbon to the home plate and DLSU retakes the lead 4-3. After Arribas was retired by Macapagal with a swing and a miss, another hit by Gomez put DLSU offense on track as she scored Son and pad on the lead at 5-3. Despite the lead, pinch runner Beatrice Ignacio was caught stealing to third and was subsequently forced out at second.
NU regrouped once more to keep their semifinals hopes alive in their side of the final inning. Damasing began with a single for NU. After Gequillo grounded out to Arribas, Alilin hit a double, which scored Damasing to cut the deficit back to 1, 4-5. Macapagal redeemed herself from her debacle in the previous inning on mound, as she hit another single to tie the game again at 5-all as Alilin steps on the plate. With Arago batting and with one out, another low pitch from Arribas was not caught by Gomez and the DLSU catcher did not recover in time,which let Macapagal step home to take the win for NU, 6-5.