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Tiebreaker Times


UAAP 86 Baseball: Jesus Cabigao holds off UP rally as UST clinches last Final Four berth

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas clinched the last UAAP Season 86 Final Four ticket on Saturday, weathering a late storm from University of the Philippines to secure a 15-11 victory in the playoff at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Golden Sox heading into this contest.

Starting the season with a dream 3-1 record, UST lost five of its last six games — capped by a 10-9 10th-inning heartbreak to defending champion La Salle on Thursday, dropping to a 4-6 tie with UP for the fourth spot.

For long-time UST head coach Jeffrey Santiago, they needed a lot of luck and determination to snap out of their skid in the all-important contest.

“Salamat sa Panginoon dahil binigyan kami ng suwerte. Pero ‘yung mga bata nag-deliver, talagang pinaghirapan nila ang opensa namin,” said Santiago, a living legend in Philippine baseball.

The Golden Sox batters went off to a hot start, connecting on seven hits in the first two innings for a strong 8-0 lead — all earned runs.

During the UST rally, UP had to exhaust its bullpen, going through four pitchers — Ram Matanguihan, Darren Mayo, Daniel Badrina, and ace Kobe Torres.

Torres was able to quell the surge up until the fourth inning.

During the top of the fourth, the Golden Sox capitalized on the Fighting Maroons’ errors, extending the lead to 13-0.

The top of UST’s order played big in the contest with third baseman Steven Dominguez (4-of-6 at-bat), reigning MVP and second baseman Justine Rosales (2-of-6), and catcher John Reymond Vargas all connecting.UAAP86-Baseball-UST-Justine-Rosales-4 UAAP 86 Baseball: Jesus Cabigao holds off UP rally as UST clinches last Final Four berth Baseball News UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news

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The expected UP run came in the fourth inning.

An inside-the-park, grand slam home run by UP skipper Ian Mercado capped a five-run bottom of the 4th to put the home team on the board.

Seven more runs in the next three innings sliced the UST lead down to just three runs heading into the final inning.

Though UST pitcher Harry Geronimo will be credited with the win, it was his reliever Jesus Cabigao who closed things out.

In the four innings he pitched, he only allowed five hits while stranding seven runners on base.

“Si Jesus, ‘yung reliever namin, bumalik na sa kanyang kondisyon. Buhay na siya! Siya ang bumuhay sa amin. Tapos na ang Holy Week kaya nabuhay muli si Jesus!” quipped Santiago.

UST closed the game out with a beautiful defensive stop.

With just one out, Torres hit a grounder to second base but Rosales was there to force Val Mangahas out. Rosales then made a beautiful throw to first baseman Alwyn Pinero for the game-sealing double play.UAAP86-Baseball-UP-Kennedy-Torres-2 UAAP 86 Baseball: Jesus Cabigao holds off UP rally as UST clinches last Final Four berth Baseball News UAAP UP UST  - philippine sports news

It is a heartbreaking end for Anthony Dizer’s Maroons, finalists from last season, as they finish in fifth place.

Going up against a twice-to-beat-armed Green Batters, Santiago is unfazed.

“Nung nakaraang laro, panalo na kami nun kaya lang nag-error. Sana manalo kami,” he said.

The Lines:

TEAM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

UST 5 3 0 5 0 1 0 0 1 15 17 5

UP 0 0 0 4 5 1 1 0 0. 11 11 3

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