'Graduating Blue Batters' lead Ateneo to Game 1 victory over La Salle

Anton Roxas on Mar 05, 2015 06:03 PM
'Graduating Blue Batters' lead Ateneo to Game 1 victory
The Ateneo Blue Batters prevailed over La Salle in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 77 Baseball Finals to move to within a win away from a 'Three-peat'.

An “almost flawless game on defense” was how Ateneo de Manila University Team Manager Randy Dizer described the way his ball club played in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 77 Baseball Finals on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The two-time defending champions silenced their critics by ending their three-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory over redemption-seeking De La Salle University.

“After three straight losses, people started saying, ‘We’re going down.’ We took that as a wake up call. The players worked hard during the last few practices,” explained Dizer.

Team Captain Adriane Bernardo scored the first run of the game in the very first inning with the help of a groundball from Dio Remollo. And when they took the field on defense, they tallied the first and only double play of the game.

But, the batters from Taft Avenue caught fire in the second inning, with Paolo Salud hitting a line drive towards center field that generated a run and Team Captain Carly Laurel following it up with a 2 RBI single. Ateneo finally closed the inning after Jose Pineda’s flyball landed straight into the glove of Renzo Ramos.

La Salle would not score again as the Blue Batters responded with a run of their own at the top of the fourth.

Rookie pitcher Boo Barandiaran committed a hit by pitch (HBP) three times, nailing Ateneo’s Chip Esguerra, Radito Banzon and I?igo Untalan. Because of this, Barandiaran had to be replaced momentarily by Francis Gesmundo. Before Gesmundo’s entry, Ateneo tallied its second run of the game via a free ride for Esguerra from 3rd base to the home plate due to the HBP. That set the stage for the league’s reigning Best Slugger, Matt Laurel to come up with another big play for Ateneo.

The graduating senior did not disappoint as he sent Banzon and Pelos Remollo home with a 2 RBI single. That changed the complexion of the game as Ateneo took a 4-3 lead.

In the 6th inning, it was Dio Remollo’s turn to come up with a major play, as he registered a 2 RBI double, with Bernardo and Untalan scoring for the Blue Batters.

Ateneo’s scoring was capped off in the 8th inning by a gutsy dash by Bernardo from 3rd base to home after a wayward pitch from Mu?oz, who had replaced Barandiaran on the mound.
Barandiaran tallied 5 strike outs in his Finals debut for La Salle while Mu?oz added 3 strike outs of his own for the Green Archers.

Just like Game 1 of the Finals last year, reigning MVP Andy Tan went the extra mile and pitched 8 innings, before being replaced by rookie Paolo Macasaet.

“When I talked to Andy last week, I told him, ‘I need six innings from you’. But, with the way he was pitching and the one week rest, that helped him last longer. Hiningi niya yung extra innings,” revealed Dizer.

Six players will be graduating from this year’s Ateneo squad including Tan, Laurel, Bernardo, Untalan, Esguerra and Pelos Remollo.

Dizer expressed how pleased he is with their contributions to the team throughout their collegiate careers.

“I’ve been saying it from the beginning. My graduating players will not let us down. And they we’re the ones who delivered today. Hopefully, they will carry us again on Thursday.”

Game 2 of the best-of-three Finals series will take place on March 12, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. back inside the Rizal Memorial Stadium with Ateneo looking to close out the series to win a third straight championship.

When Dizer was asked about that upcoming game, he gave a stern response.

“The confidence is back. I told the players, ‘Let’s get Game 2. We don’t want Game 3.’”

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