After a heartbreaking loss to the National University Bulldogs in the first round due to circumstances beyond their control, the Adamson University Soaring Falcons marked February 21 as their day of vengeance.
In a game that saw various errors and furious lead exchanges, two consecutive dropped balls spelled the doom for the free-falling Bulldogs in a 7-6 10th inning walk-off victory for the Soaring Falcons.
Jerome Yenson and the Adamson defense did not allow the Bulldogs to score a run in the first four innings of the game. Even in giving up two hits and errors leading six runners on base, the infield of the San Marcelino Street batters stranded all of them while Yenson was able to strikeout five batters in the first half of the game.
On the other end, the Soaring Falcons were quickly able to punch in two runs in the first inning. With two runners and two outs, Yenson was able to bring home Gerald Riparip and Mark Manaig after a single to left field.
Two more runs were delivered by the Orlando Binarao-mentored squad during the fourth and fifth innings. A double by Raumond Matic opened the fourth inning and was brought home after a fielders choice attempt by NU that failed to seal home base. After NU was able to punch in their first run at the top of the fifth inning coming from a Junmar Diarao double that brought home Ybanez, a two-out single by Lourence Ruiz and a double by Manaig that brought home the former extended the Adamson lead to 4-1 after the fifth inning.
“Kabaligtaran ng nangyari nung game namin sa UP, nagpabugbog muna ang kalaban,” Adamson coach Romeo Jasmin quipped.
Slowly though, like in their opening game against La Salle, the Bulldogs slowly chipped into the lead. Robin Libid was able to gain NU’s second run of the game after a passed ball. Then in the seventh inning, a throwing error by Adamson’s second baseman Bryan Castillo led to a run for Cyruz Barit.
The NU Bulldogs capped their rally in the weirdest way possible in the eighth inning. After Alfredo De Guzman was walked by Yenson, Adamson’s starting pitcher was relieved of duties in favor of Ruiz. Ruiz though hit next batter Herxel Fortunato with a stray pitch to give NU two bases with no outs. The next batter, rookie Jerome Tenorio, in hopes of moving the two runners to better scoring position, bunted the ball. However, the result was a throwing error by Adamson catcher Manaig that led to a rare “three-run bunt home run” that gave NU the lead 6-4.
“Hindi ko rin naman napansin yun e,” Jasmin said about the Tenorio’s bunt. “Nag contact daw dun sa mga UST. Wala naman nagsabi sa akin na dead ball dapat yun.”
The Bulldogs though miserably failed to seal the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Riparip was able to connect on a single that brought life to the Adamson clubhouse. A catching error by NU’s center fielder De Guzman then gave Ruiz base. After a groundout of Manaig, NU needed just one out to win the game. Adamson’s next batter Matic was able to connect with a ground single that led to a Riparip run. In the next play, what should have been an easy tag out by NU’s first baseman Libid on Matic turned into an error that led to Ruiz gaining the run needed to send the game into an extra inning.
“Break na naman talaga. Yung nag-score sila ng tatlo galing sa errors yun e. Mabuti pumalit naman yung situation at sila naman nag-commit ng error,” Adamson’s head coach said about the errors that brought them back to the game.
After holding the Bulldogs down at the top of the tenth inning, the pressure was on for the Jhocson Street fielders once more. After the ousters of the first two Adamson batters for the inning, rookie Maigue connected on a grounder to left field. As he was about to be tagged out at second base, Tenorio dropped the ball resulting to the Batangas-native gaining base. A single by fellow rookie Erwin Bosito to center field resulted to a fielders choice decision for NU. The fielders of NU decided to throw out Maigue who was running to home base. As Barit was about to knock-off the rookie, he too dropped the ball against a sliding Maigue resulting to a walk-off victory for the Soaring Falcons.
“Gusto nila makabawi. Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘gusto ko manalo tayo ng malinis, hindi dahil sa inabutan tayo ng dilim.'” a proud Jasmin said after the game. “Ngayon kaya namin manalo ng nine innings.”
For Maigue though, he admitted that he only had one shot to take this game home. “Nung tumatakbo ako run na lang nasa isip ko,” he said as he wobbled to the locker room. “Ginamitan ko na rin ng gulang kumbaga. Buti na lang nahulog yung bola ng dalawang sunod na beses.”
Manaig had an excellent outing for the Falcons in going 2 of 4 at bat. He was able to connect on two doubles that led to an RBI and a run.
As a team, the Falcons left 12 NU batters on base compared to 9 for Adamson. Moreover, all of NU’s runs were unearned coming from Adamson’s 7 errors.
The Adamson Soaring Falcons look to extend their win streak to three as they face the winless UP Fighting Maroons on Holiday Thursday, February 25 at 10:00am. The game will be followed by the Bulldogs’ game against the Ateneo Blue Eagles.