|NU (6-6), T-4th/5th||1||0||0||1||2||4||2|
|ADMU (12-0), 1st||10||1||2||–||13||10||0|
Back into familiar territory
The Adamson University (AdU) Lady Falcons smothers National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, 13-2 to remain unscathed, and booked their return ticket to the championship round, Wednesday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
The Lady Bulldogs started the game on a mission. After Lovely Arago grounded to Adamson shortstop Queeny Sabobo, Kristine Acuña hit a single to the right field to start it off for NU. Last year’s MVP, Annalie Benjamen gave up a walk Guelle Nietes. With runners on first and second, Charlyn Tulalian flyed out to left field, but no one tried to advance for the Lady Bulldogs in the ensuing play. Shyra Damasing hit the ball to deep right field for a double to score Acuña. That woke the Lady Falcons up, when Nietes was about to reach third base, she was tagged out by AdU’s Angelie Surabia off a throw by catcher Clariz Palma for the last out. NU leads at middle of the first inning, 1-0.
The defending four-time champions, Adamson showed their offensive mettle on their side of the first inning. Although at first, it was not mostly due to the Lady Falcons’ power, but off miscues by NU. Two straight throwing errors of the Lady Bulldogs advanced the AdU lead-off batters Sabobo and Lorna Adorable. On the consequent play with Florabele Pabiana at bat, Adorable was caught stealing third, and was forced out Nietes off a throw by the catcher Coleen Alilin. NU starting pitcher Mia Macapagal, however, gave up a walk to Pabiana.
With runners on the corners, Benjamen hit a grounder to the left-centerfield to score Sabobo and Adamson tied the game 1-all. Macapagal gave up another walk for Ursabia and the bases were loaded for the Lady Falcons. Right fielder, Gelyn Lamata stepped up to the plate, and delivered another hit to right field to score Pabiana and Benjamen to take the lead for Adamson, 3-1.
In the ensuing plays, too many scuffles on the NU defense gave up two more runs to Adamson as Ursabia and Lamata scored, 5-1. A wild pitch off Macapagal hit Palma to advanced the Lady Falcon to first base. In a play afterwards, Palma was forced out at home by Macapagal off a throw to Alilin for the second out.
Adamson, however, opened the flood gates as Riflyca Basa and Krisha Paguican also scored to make it 7-1. Basa earlier advanced off a hit, and Paguican reached first after four balls off Macapagal. The onslaught was not yet over as the top of the order pulled off three more runs with Sabobo, Adorable, and Pabiana crossing the plate. Suddenly, it was 10-1 for the defending queens.
Reigning MVP, Benjamen, then, took matters into her own hands as she fanned the three NU batters that she faced at the top of the second. Only Alilin was able to get one hit off the burly veteran as she hit a double to the leftfield. At the bottom of this inning, the Lady Falcons stretched their lead to double digits. After Palma flyed out to NU left field Tulalian, Basa tested the Lady Bulldog defense and succeeded as she hit a double to Tulalian’s side of the park. Macapagal took one for herself as she fanned Paguican for the second out. With two outs, Sabobo connect to deep rightfield to register a triple, and scored Basa, 11-1. Adorable, however, did not hit the ball and left Sabobo stranded on third.
It was another solid side of the second for Adamson as NU had no offensive answer to make a comeback. Arago, and substitutes, Mary Tungol and Razel Cuyos, were all dismissed due to handiwork of Benjamen as the first two grounded to the pitcher, and the last one struck out.
The impending winners, Lady Falcons pushed more runs on their side of the third inning. Pabiana started the AdU side of the third hitting a single to the rightfield. Benjamen followed it up with another hit to the same area. With runners on second and third, Ursabia hit a sacrifice fly to the center to score Pabiana. A passed ball off Alilin scored Benjamen to take the score to 13-1. The Lady Bulldogs ended their misery as they dismissed pinch hitters, Dety Cavarrubias and Palma.
Needing to score, NU put all their effort into the top of fourth against Adamson rookie pitcher, Baby Jane Raro. After Clarifer Singh, who was hitting for Tulalian, flyed out to shortstop Sabobo, Damasing took the first pitch and hit the ball solidly to right centerfield for a solo homer to get NU back on board. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ last stand as Raro fanned Mary Grace Blanco and the defense retired Alilin.
The win marked Adamson’s 60th straight victory since Season 72. Coach Ana Santiago was happy that her wards were able to reach their first goal. “It’s nice to be back in the Finals. Isa naman talaga to sa medyo talagang pinaghahandaan naman.” The grizzled coach shared that they will still continue their training. She also told her team to stay focused. “Tandaan niyo girls: every game is a different story. So, it doesn’t mean na tinalo natin sila, tatalunin ulit natin. Kailangan work harder para talunin ulit natin sila.”
Santiago also shared that she was happy the defending titlists responded after she talked to them when NU score in the first and with runner on third. “Ano naman sila, nagstep-up.”