La Salle rookie pitcher Diego Lozano and a Finals debut to remember
Anton Roxas on Mar 12, 2016 10:06 AM
(Photo: Arvin Lim/ABS-CBN Sports)
During the fifth inning of Game 1 in the UAAP Season 78 Baseball Finals, De La Salle University held a 6-1 lead against three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University. But, after powerful Fil-Japanese Kai Furosawa unleashed a 2 RBI single against reigning league Best Pitcher Boo Barandiaran, Green Archers Head Coach Joseph Orillana decided it was time to change things up.
With their lead cut to three, Orillana made what initially looked like a risky move by replacing Barandiaran with another pitcher. Who could be better than last year’s top awardee at that position, right?
In came a skinny rookie. Very different from the usual heftier pitchers like Barandiaran and Carlos Munoz. But, this rookie was not any ordinary rookie. His Baseball resumé was filled with very impressive credentials.
Best Baseball Player for La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) for 2015, Best Pitcher, Best Fielder and MVP. Represented Asia-Pacific in the 2013 Senior League World Series.
The kid’s name was Diego Lozano. And after he threw his first pitch, everybody in the stadium knew that he was something special.
“He’s got a smooth release on his throw. I love the mechanics of his pitching,” said Kiko Diaz, former Athletic Director of the University of the Philippines, who was providing color commentary for the UAAP Baseball Finals for ABS-CBN Sports.
With Lozano on the pitcher’s mound, Ateneo could not get their offense going. And their heaviest hitters were unable to connect with the variety of balls being thrown by the lefty. Some of them even struck out.
Ryon Tionloc, Kai Furosawa, Gino Tantuico, Marquis Alindogan and Lorenzo Orbeta. These are the names of the Blue Eagles who Lozano registered strikeouts against. Tionloc struck out twice.
Lozano’s six strikeouts were more than the number of strikeouts of the entire Ateneo team (4).
For Lozano, pitching is all about staying locked-in.
“My thoughts were the next three batters I’m going to face. Just get the three outs, then we get the first victory,” said Lozano, whose first sport was Football before his father, Rammy, introduced him to the sport during the first grade.
Even though he exuded confidence in his first Finals game in the UAAP, Lozano admitted that he felt the pressure.
“It feels really good to get the first win. Like a big portion of nervousness got out of my chest.”
Orillana, a pitcher himself during his playing days, praised his young prodigy but stated that he was not surprised.
“Alam ko naman na kaya niya. Kita ko yung eagerness niya at yung kumpiyansa, nandoon.”
With the addition of Lozano, La Salle’s pitching rotation just got deeper. They will have to play big again in Game 2 if they want to dethrone Ateneo and recapture the title they last won way back in UAAP Season 65 (2002-2003).