The University of Santo Tomas Tiger Softbelles were already ready to pack their bags and prepare for another game against the University of the East Lady Warriors, Thursday afternoon. However, fifth-year slugger CJ Roa had other things in mind, sending the game to an extra inning before her teammates took care of the rest to take a 6-5 eighth inning win to advance to their third straight Finals.
“Di ko talaga inexpect yun. Yung pinapasok ko lang sa utak ko kailangan ko lang maka-hit. Hindi ko inexpect na gagana yung bat ko,” recalled Roa.
Down 4-5 with two outs during the bottom end of the seventh inning, Roa, the UAAP Season 77 Best Slugger, slammed a solo, over-the-fence home run to send the game into an extra frame.
“Hindi ko ine-expect yun. Actually, papalit na ko kay Edzel [Bacarisas] nun para kamayan siya,” recalled UST head coach Sandy Barredo. “Alam naman natin na kaya ni CJ na pumalo ng ganun pero hindi ko ine-expect na mag-hohomerun siya with two outs.”
“Very special kasi yung ginawa namin, malaking tulong yun para makapahinga si Ann,” shared Roa, who had a long hug with ace pitcher Ann Antolihao after she reached home plate. “Sabi niya, thank you. Sinalba ko raw yung team at may chance siya makabawi sa next inning.”
Antolihao then took care of business on the top end of the extra inning.
With Shiela Perales being the designated runner, Bianca Hernandez uncorked a grounder that went straight to UE’s second basewoman. Confusion though ensued as the Lady Warriors’ lack of playoff experience showed that resulted to Perales punching in the game-winner.
“Mahirap talaga, bilog yung bola. Dominated namin yung game lalo na si Lovely [Redaja],” expressed Bacarisas. “Kaso yun nga, yung homerun ni Roa. Nakulangan lang sa dulo. Nag-collapse yung palo nung eighth inning.”
UE was actually up 5-3 entering the sixth inning as Roxzell Niloban waxed hot, slamming two home runs.
With the win, the Tiger Softbelles and the Adamson Lady Falcons meet in the finals for the third straight year. Adamson won the previous two.
On the other hand, the Lady Warriors ended their campaign with bronze.
Niloban, Josephine Francisco, Mary Joy Catacutan, Charlene Quintos, Jonavie Jeresano, Kathlene Soliven, and Princess Huesca all played their final UAAP games.
“Lahat ng first nine ko nandun pero meron pa naman pamalit,” shared Bacarisas
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