In an opening day thriller, the De La Salle University Green Batters were able to get their groove late, escaping fellow contenders Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 3-2, Sunday morning at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
“Actually, inexpect ko na tough game ito,” said La Salle head coach Joseph Orillana. “Adamson is one of the contenders sa liga natin ngayon. Lahat ng game ngayon, we need to treat it as a championship game. Walang mahina ngayon.”
La Salle’s breakthrough win would not have been possible without fourth-year pitcher Kiko Gesmundo.
With the game knotted at 2-all, the Soaring Falcons threatened to pull away in the eighth inning. Adamson were able to load up the bases with two outs. Composed, Gesmundo was able to force a flyball that went straight to the outstretched arms of right fielder Diego Lozano.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Sabihin mo sa akin pag ubos na gas mo.’ Pero lumaban siya,” beamed Orillana of his recruit from Marist School. “Kailangan niyang mailusot yung inning na yun para siya yung hero, para siya yung winning pitcher. Wala nang magsasara nito kung hindi siya lang.”
Gesmundo pitched all nine innings and went up against 36 at-bats. He only gave up four hits and struck out eight batters.
The stagnant offense came alive at the bottom end of the inning. A fielding error by Adamson gave Josh Salinas base, while a sac fly by Paul Naguit moved him to scoring position. After a base hit by Jose Antonio Acuna led to the heroics of lead batter Paolo Salud, Salud’s grounder paved the way for a Salinas’ winning run.
“Ang goal this year ay hindi second, kailangan mag champion, kailangan namin mabawi yung nawala sa amin last year. Kaya yun nga, we need to treat each game as a championship game,” added the La Salle great.
The Green Batters were up 2-0 early but were answered right back in the fourth inning by last season’s Most Valuable Player runner-up Jerome Yenson. Yenson slammed the first home run of the season, bringing him and Erwin Bosito home.
La Salle only had two hits in the contest, leaving 13 runners stranded.
La Salle will next face the University of Santo Tomas Golden Sox on Wednesday, February 7, while Adamson take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the second game of the day.