La Salle sets UAAP baseball finals with Ateneo after 14-12 win

By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--La Salle pounced on defending champion Ateneo's errors in the early goings to pound out a 14-12 win and claim the second Finals slot in the UAAP Season 77 baseball tournament on Thursday.

The Green Batters capitalized on the Blue Eagles' throwing errors in the first inning to built a seven-run advantage.

With Ateneo threatening to extend the game in the bottom ninth, La Salle turned to its pitching as Carlos Munoz, who took over from Carly Laurel after the eighth inning, delivered the goods to preserve the victory at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.

"I just told our pitcher na one out at a time, huwag ma-pressure. Kahit umiskor sila ng pa-isa-isa, ang importante eh ma-hold namin yung outs nila," said Green Batters coach Joseph Orillana.

La Salle notched their sixth win in nine matches behind the Eagles' 7-3 record. Ateneo, which is seeking a three-peat, will head to the best-of-three championship series with three straight defeats.

The Green Batters hope to avenge their finals loss to the Eagles last season. The series opener is scheduled on March 5.

"Maganda yung comeback namin sa second round at nagtuloy-tuloy ang panalo, so yung momentum nasa amin," said Orillana. "Mas maganda ang labanan ngayon sa pitchers. Kung maganda ang pitching namin, mas maho-hold ang hitting nila (Ateneo)."

Carly Laurel had five strike outs in his five-inning stint before being replaced by Munoz, who struck out Renzo Ramos in the critical bottom ninth.

La Salle's victory doused all hopes for UP, a 7-4 winner over NU in the first game, to enter the title round via the backdoor.

The Fighting Maroons, who posted a 5-4 card, are hoping for a playoff for the No. 2 slot by winning against the Bulldogs and by pulling it off against the Green Batters in the resumption of last Sunday's suspended game.

Instead, UP will resume its match against La Salle from the top fifth which is now a meaningless one except for some implications for individual awards on Sunday.