Too much offense, in sync fielding
Defending UAAP Baseball champions De La Salle University Green Batters never missed a beat, overpowering the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in a 19-1 abbreviated seventh inning win, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium in Manila.
Jonathan Park and Kiko Gesmundo led the demolition as both slammed three-run home run and 4 RBI’s. Designated hitter Iggy Escano went 4-of-5 at-bat, two singles and two doubles that led to three runs, while sophomore Diego Lozano punched in four runs
Even if the Green Batters lost five players in the off-season — including team captain and pitcher/batter Carlos Munoz, the champions were in-sync in every inning they played against UP.
“Hindi lang performance as an individual ang importante. Ang importante is yung performance as a whole. Mas malaki yung volume nun against sa kalaban,” said head coach Joseph Orillana.
After relying on their fielding for the first two innings of the game, La Salle showcased their power in the third inning of the game. Third-year batter Jonathan Park knocked off a booming three-run home run to open the floodgates of the game.
And they also punished the Fighting Maroons on the defensive end.
With La Salle extending its lead to 7-0 entering the fifth inning, the Fighting Maroons tried to spark a two-out rally. Paul Fernandez and Gabby Yang were able to cover prime real estate with Rapho Balagtas doing the clean-up. However, a long fly ball by Balagtas was foiled by center fielder Paolo Salud, who dove for the ball to make the miraculous catch that effectively sucked out the momentum UP was trying to gain.
“In-eexpect ko sa kanya kasi ginagawa namin sa training lagi nun. Ang lagi ko sinasabi sa kanya, ang range ng outfield dapat three seconds lang, front, side, back makukuha mo yun,” Orillana, a former Green Batter himself, remarked about Salud’s highlight play. “Importante yan mas lalo na sa do-or-die scenarios.”
As the game went on, the Green Batters continued to punish Gab Rodriguez (0-1) and the rest of UP’s pitching staff. Almost everyone Orillana plugged in were able to connect as the Green Batters were able to punch in seven and five runs during the fifth and sixth inning of the game before the game was ended via the mercy rule.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘we need to start strong, we need to finish strong.’ No looking back na. Basta pag naglaro ka diyan tuloy-tuloy lang. Parang dating ba, no mercy,” Orillana reflected.
UAAP Season 78 co-Finals MVP Boo Barandiaran (1-0) compounded the problems of the UP batters. In seven innings pitched, he only allowed four hits and struck out five batters.
“Maganda yung pagiging matured niya. Mas alam na niya ngayon kung ano ang kailangan ng team sa kanya,” Orillana said about the third-year pitcher. “Nakikita ko siya na he’s becoming a good leader sa field. May kumpiyansa na rin siya sa sarili niya.”
Overall, La Salle had 15 hits in the game and all but five of their runs were earned.
La Salle will open the games on Wednesday, February 8 when they face the UST Golden Sox (0-1) at 7:00am. UP follows suit, taking on the Adamson Soaring Falcons (0-1) at 10:00am.