JOSEPH Alcontin sent De La Salle University to the UAAP Season 85 Baseball Finals with a walk-off hit that scored JR Samuel at the bottom of the ninth inning, closing off a 9-8 victory over University of the Philippines, Saturday at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.
The best-of-three finals will begin on Tuesday at the same field. First pitch is at 3:30 p.m.
Trailing by two, 6-8, heading into the last two innings, the defending champions shook off that disastrous seventh inning that saw UP take the lead.
In that seventh inning, a combination of hits from the Fighting Maroons and several fielding errors from the Green Batters saw the former snag the lead with five runs in the frame. Designated hitter Kobe Torres and catcher Mark Liwanagan punched in the two earned runs, before third baseman Mark Tuballas, left-fielder Darren Mayo, and first baseman VJ Mangahas crossed the plate, capitalizing on the opponents’ miscues.
From there, La Salle turned to its defense to keep the margin at two.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, maaga pa yung laro. (UP) scored three pero any time pwede naman nating mahabol yan, huwag lang tayong mara-rattle sa depensa. Nagawa nga namin, pero after that, nung nataranta na naman sila, nagkabit-kabit yung error,” Green Batters coach Joseph Orillana said.
“Sabi ko, ”Tong last inning may chance pa tayo. Hangga’t hindi tapos ‘yang three outs natin may chance pa. Maniwala lang kayo na kaya niyo’,” he continued.
Second baseman Vince Flores, who started at the mound for DLSU, took down Nano Asuncion on the throw to his first baseman Iggy Escaño for the first out in the eighth inning before relief pitcher Lord Aragorn De Vera closed it out with a strikeout on Tuballas.
Another scoreless hold from the Green Batters in the ninth set up that turn at bat where Escaño started it off with a huge hit that eventually ended with that Alcontin-Samuel heroics.
It was a battle of closers that saw DLSU’s De Vera and UP’s Torres hold the fort against the opposing offense.
De Vera held UP scoreless in those final two innings and limited them to a Karl Liwanagan hit in the eighth, while Torres struck out three of the four batters he faced in the same frame before that DLSU turnaround happened.
Game 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
UP 2 1 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 8 14 5
DLSU 0 0 0 0 4 2 0 0 3 9 13 7