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Tiebreaker Times
(C) Noel Tonido/UAAP Season 86 Media Team


UAAP 86 Baseball: NU overcomes Ateneo, breaks 11-year Finals drought

NATIONAL University returns to the Big Dance after 11 years, defeating Ateneo with a 9-5 decision in the UAAP Season 86 Baseball Final Four on Sunday at the UP Baseball Field.

The Bulldogs, who finished fifth last year, overcame two elimination-round losses against the Blue Eagles to secure their first Finals appearance since Season 75 (2012-13), coincidentally against the Katipunan-based side.

NU and reigning back-to-back champion De La Salle University, which defeated University of Santo Tomas 6-4 in the other bracket earlier in the day, will contest the crown in a best-of-three series starting on Thursday at 4 p.m..

“Alam namin mahihirapan kami sa Ateneo kaya puspusan talaga training namin para makapagadjust sa strategy. Pumalo lang kami ng pumalo, minotivate namin ‘yung mga bata na kahit anong mangyari hanggang sa huling out talaga napaka-importante na lumaban kami,” said first-year NU head coach Romar Landicho, who replaced Egay delos Reyes during the off-season.UAAP-86-BASEBALL-NU-vs-ADMU-Paule UAAP 86 Baseball: NU overcomes Ateneo, breaks 11-year Finals drought ADMU Baseball News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

Known for their tenacious defense throughout the season, the Bulldogs showcased their offensive prowess this time, scoring six runs, with three each coming in the pivotal first and fifth innings.

The first inning saw Ateneo’s forced errors heavily assisting NU, with Nigel Paule, Amiel De Guzman, and Kevin Maulit all reaching first base due to such errors.

Paule and De Guzman eventually scored off those mistakes, before Kevin Maulit scored on a single from his brother, Kenneth Maulit, and a subsequent double steal.

In the fifth inning, with a precarious two-run lead at 4-2, NU added to their advantage as John Kiel Olazo drove in two runs with a double to right-center field, with De Guzman and Kenneth Maulit scoring their second runs.

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Gio Gorpido then brought home the second baseman for an 8-2 lead.

Ateneo’s offense struggled in the subsequent innings as Season 81 Best Pitcher MJ Carolino stood firm, allowing only four hits and recording 12 strikeouts, until the final inning when the Blue Eagles managed to break the silence.

Three runs, resulting from bases-loaded situations and NU’s miscues, came through for Ateneo’s graduating players Geof Magsadia, Joaquin Casanova, and Montemayor, narrowing the gap.UAAP-86-BASEBALL-NU-vs-ADMU-Carolino UAAP 86 Baseball: NU overcomes Ateneo, breaks 11-year Finals drought ADMU Baseball News NU UAAP  - philippine sports news

De Guzman, who took over from Carolino, sealed the game with a double play and a strikeout against Ateneo’s Javi Limpo.

Ateneo finished third this year, bidding farewell to seniors Magsadia, Casanova, Limpo, Ethan Mitschiener, and Aloy Tuprio, who played their final game for the Blue and White.

With the Finals looming, Landicho and the rest of the Bustillos-based squad are focused on the task ahead.

“Again defending champions sila, so kailangan namin talagang lumaban, sumabay sa kanila. Kung ano man ang dapat gawin, gagawin namin para manalo,” said Landicho, who is looking to give NU its first baseball crown since Season 74 (2011-12).

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

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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