For 727 days, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons were on the losing end in the UAAP Baseball Championship. Down to just 13 student-athletes on Wednesday afternoon, Kenneth Marinas and the rest of UP’s Baseball Team played their best game in years against defending champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon at the historic Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
With the win, the Fighting Maroons broke their 19-game losing streak. Their last win came on February 25, 2016 — a 10-3 romp of the Adamson University Soaring Falcons.
“Sarap! What a relief! After a 19 game losing streak, finally tapos na! That’s the one thing I’ve been telling these boys, na kaya nila e. Gustuhin lang nila manalo,” said head coach Anthony Dizer, who himself is a UP alumnus.
Entering the contest, the Fighting Maroons had only 13 student-athletes. But even with the tall task of defeating the Blue Eagles, they were able to find confidence after allowing just two hits in the first four innings of the contest.
“Very limited kami. Maganda yung pinitch ni Kenneth [Marinas] the whole nine innings. Kami we had 11 hits and a champion team like Ateneo was just limited to five hits. So kaya talaga nila, yung focus lang talaga,” added Dizer, who is the younger brother of Ateneo Baseball program director Randy Dizer.
Able to find their groove, Roque Banzon opened up the fourth inning with a base hit against Luis Estacio. With two outs, Juan Landicho connected on a linedrive to center field to bring home Banzon.
The Fighting Maroons were able to double their lead after a Mark Tuballas slammed a triple to bring home Gabby Yang.
Javi Macasaet was able to get one back for the Blue Eagles in the next inning after a sacrifice fly to right field that paved the way for a Radito Banzon run.
But UP were determined to end their futility.
During the seventh inning, two runners were on base for the Blue Eagles, with just one out. Ateneo senior Lorenzo Orbeta was intentionally walked to load up the bases, with Paulo Macasaet on deck. The reigning best pitcher connected on a grounder that went straight to Marinas. Marinas played home for the second out and was followed by a throw to first base for the double play.
An insurance run by Roque Banzon gave UP the added cushion in the eighth inning.
“Of all the teams, Ateneo pa tinalo nila,” shared Dizer. “Last four games, they need to sustain the energy from start to finish. Yung storya kasi namin, we start strong tapos bibigay. Yung eagerness to win dapat nandun lang.”
The Blue Eagles fell to a tie for second with the Soaring Falcons.
UP look to stun the Soaring Falcons as well on Sunday, February 25, at 7:00am. Ateneo will look to bounce back on the same day against the National University Bulldogs.