In his final year, Paulo Macasaet made sure to start things off on the right note.
The UAAP Season 79 Finals Most Valuable Player was close to being unhittable as the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles ran roughshod the University of Santo Tomas Golden Sox in just seven innings, 13-3.
Macasaet, an Ateneo lifer, pitched all innings, striking out 11 batters and giving up just six hits.
“Actually, the coaching staff was pushing him to get as many innings as he could. As we go along the season, we need to push him to maximize innings,” said first-year Ateneo head coach Bocc Bernardo. “That is why we pushed him to get seven.
“Although nung preseason hindi siya nakakapag-seven innings, we are trying to change his mindset that he will pitch long this season,” the former Ateneo catcher added.
On the other end, Gino Tantuico and Paulo’s brother Javi provided the firepower for the 2019 PBL bronze medalists.
Tantuico uncorked the first home run of the season in the very first inning, firing a three-run homer to center field to put Ateneo on the board. Later on, the younger Macasaet blasted a two-run HR in the sixth inning. The converted shortstop ended up going 3-of-4 at the plate.
Sophomore Rodrigo Bitong also performed well, going 2-of-2 in the last two innings and producing three RBIs.
“It was tough to win nung PBL. We were dealing with a lot of injuries, that is why some of our players were not in their natural positions,” recalled Bernardo. “Now that we are almost a hundred-percent, but Dino [Altomonte] is still not healthy. But as we go along, it is important for us to get everyone into full strength.”
Altomonte, who is recovering from a slight MCL tear, managed to play in the last two innings.
UST’s pitching staff, led by Ian Llave, had a disappointing UAAP Season 81 debut. Overall, the Golden Sox gave up six errors while the pitchers allowed 11 hits.
Ateneo look to make it two in a row when they face the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons on Wednesday, February 20 at 10:00am. On the other hand, UST hope to bounce back when they take on the Adamson Soaring Falcons.
UST – 000 201 0 – 3 6 6
ADMU – 302 025 1 – 13 11 1