National University leaned on two huge innings in the middle of the game to complete a come-from-behind stunner against erstwhile undefeated University of the Philippines, 8-5, in the UAAP Season 85 Baseball tournament, Wednesday, Mar. 22, at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.
Down five at 0-5 going into the fifth inning, the Bulldogs went into the plate with the mindset of getting their offense going and it eventually did to conquer the Fighting Maroons.
“Nitong past games lagi kaming nahahabol, ngayon naman tinignan namin kung kaya naman naming humabol kasi dito mate-test yung character ng team,” coach Egay Delos Reyes said.
“Nag-stick lang kami sa plano sa hitting. Yun yung maganda na nasunod yung game plan namin,” the concurrent national women’s baseball team mentor added.
NU moved into a triple tie with Adamson University and Ateneo de Manila University at 2-2, while UP stayed on top albeit sharing it with De La Salle University at 3-1.
Keishi Okamoto produced three hits on five at-bats, two of which came from the fourth and the fifth innings that scored two each. Nigel Paule and Kevin Maulit were the beneficiaries of the Okamoto RBIs, the fifth-inning runs tied the score at 5.
Down the order and with two outs in the fifth, Kiel Olazo and Heral Tenorio snagged the lead with one run each at 7-5, with Maulit on the plate and against last game’s winning pitcher for UP Jumbo Dela Cruz.
The solid offensive binge gave confidence to NU relief pitcher MJ Carolino to anchor the defense, keeping UP scoreless and limiting them to three hits after the fourth inning.
The Bulldogs spoiled the UAAP starting debut of Kiel Agojo who punched in two hits on four at-bats, while Ian Mercado and VJ Mangahas both went two-of-five.
Agojo anchored that Fighting Maroons’ huge inning in the fifth, driving in ground-rule double to left field to score Karl Liwanagan before crossing the plate for a 5-0 lead with a Mercado sacrifice fly to leftfielder Reynante Aranzanso.
Dela Cruz absorbed that sixth inning turnaround from the Soaring Falcons, allowing four runs in two hits. Kennedy Torres rescued a total meltdown with a one-run stint in three and one-third innings to close the game.