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UAAP 86 Baseball: NU edges closer to ending 12-year drought, stuns La Salle in Game 1


Nigel Paule guided National University to a come-from-behind 8-4 victory against back-to-back defending champion De La Salle University in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 Baseball Finals on Thursday at the UP Baseball Field.

The Bulldogs, who last lifted the trophy in Season 74 (2011-12), will aim to clinch the title against the Green Batters on Sunday at 4:00 PM in Game 2 of the Finals at the same Diliman venue.

With a precarious 5-4 lead they secured in the eighth inning, the left fielder delivered his second hit of the game.

He made a left-liner that brought in Herald Tenorio and John Kiel Olazo to extend the lead.

A subsequent attempt on the final out by Gio Gorpido misfired from substitute pitcher Lord Aragorn De Vera. That gave the Bulldogs a significant four-run cushion at 8-4, which they held on to for the win.

UAAP86-Baseball-Nigel-Paule-2 UAAP 86 Baseball: NU edges closer to ending 12-year drought, stuns La Salle in Game 1 Baseball DLSU News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

“Inisip ko lang na kailangan ko ibigay ‘yung best ko today kasi kailangan naming manalo ng Game 1,” said Paule, the homegrown outfielder from National University Nazareth School, reflecting on his mindset for the day.

The back-to-back champions from Taft seized an early 4-0 lead in the first two innings of the game, with De Vera, JR Samuel, and Pio Villamiel providing the offensive spark for the squad.

De Vera, the second-year infielder from Faith Catholic School, crossed the plate twice off single-base hits from Samuel in the first and Villamiel in the second.

Then the bottom of the order for the Green Batters, Ezy Bautista, and JM Segui, adding two more in the second.

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That was all De La Salle could manage, as NU broke through in the third to fifth innings before completing the comeback in the seventh inning.

“Yung kalaban namin is championship caliber talaga, so lagi naming sinasabi sa training at sa mga conferences namin na kailangan naming sabayan ‘yung kalaban,” said first-year Bulldogs head coach Romar Landicho, who replaced Egay delos Reyes during the off-season, on the squad’s mindset as the game progressed.

“Kailangan lang huwag kaming bibigay, pero ibibigay namin dapat lahat sa loob ng field.”

UAAP86-Baseball-Maulit-Brothers UAAP 86 Baseball: NU edges closer to ending 12-year drought, stuns La Salle in Game 1 Baseball DLSU News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

Two runs from Kenneth Maulit and Olazo in the said frame set up the comeback for the Bustillos-based side and forced Green Batters starter and reigning Finals MVP Joshua Pineda to retire to the dugout after the inning.

The pitching change in the following inning backfired on the holders, as Peter Nonaillada allowed three straight hits from Calanday and the Maulit brothers, Kevin and Kenneth, to load the bases for the Bulldogs.

Four balls from De Vera, who took over the mound from Nonaillada, sent Tenorio to first and advanced Cyril Antipolo, who ran for Calanday, home.

That set up Paule’s decisive hit and the eventual win.

Amiel De Guzman, on the other hand, was superb in the last seven innings of the game after a shaky start. He allowed just three hits in that period and shutting down the De La Salle bats.

With a significant opportunity to end the series and the 12-year wait for NU, Landicho knew that they must prepare to give their all on Sunday.

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“Yung mentality namin dapat gutom kami sa championship. Na-adapt naman na ‘yun ng players at ‘yun naman ‘yung pinapakita ng players,” the freshly tenured mentor Landicho ended.


The Lines:
TEAM 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NU 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 0 – 8 14 3
DLSU 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 4 9 3

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.


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