UAAP Baseball: UP weathers NU rally

University of the Philippines went back to winning ways after averting a meltdown in an 11-8 decision against National University in the UAAP Season 85 Baseball tournament on Sunday, Apr. 2, at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.

The Fighting Maroons, who went up to 5-2 for second place, capitalized on the Bulldogs’ errors in the eighth inning to extend the lead to three at 11-8 after second baseman Fritz Natanuan started the ball rolling with a looping hit to the left field.

Centerfielder Ian Mercado and relief pitcher Kobe Torres then reached first base off a fielding error from NU second baseman Kevin Maulit and a catching error from first baseman Keishi Okamoto before scoring on more miscues on the defense from the Bulldogs.

Kennedy Torres of the UP Fighting Maroons [UAAP media group]
Kennedy Torres of the UP Fighting Maroons [UAAP media group]

Coach Anthony Dizer of the Fighting Maroons emphasized the urgency of the next games to his wards after an upset loss to University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday.

“Every game is a must-win, kasi kapag hindi mahihirapan kaming pumasok sa Top 2, unless may makaka-tie ka sa second place. So, sabi ko sa kanila, ‘If gusto niyo ng hard way, let’s take it the hard way starting one game at a time,” he said.

With a precarious three-point lead, Torres then went to work anchoring the defense taking in the last three outs needed with Natanuan and first baseman VJ Mangahas conniving to take out NU third baseman Gio Gerpido for the final out.

Dizer was pleased with his rookie pitcher Torres’ response after giving up three runs in his first one and two-third innings on the mound, saying, “Sabi ko lang kay Kobe [Torres], lagi lang siyang lumamang (sa pitch count), para he can play with his batters.”

Torres was solid on both sides of the diamond with one hit and two runs, before getting the save for the Fighting Maroons by limiting the Bulldogs to three runs on four hits in the two and two-thirds. Starting pitcher Allen Mercado earlier held the fort for UP on a five-run and sixth-hit stand against NU to get his third win of the season.

Maulit tried to salvage NU to a third straight defeat and finished with two hits on four at-bats and drove in a run for Gerpido in the seventh-inning rally, while starting shortstop Herald Tenorio added a hit in the same inning and crossed home twice to pace the attempted comeback.

The Bulldogs slipped to a 2-5 win-loss record to remain at the fifth spot.

NU pitcher Amiel De Guzman eventually settled down and limited UP to a solitary hit in the next seven innings after giving up five in the first two to end the day for the Bulldogs on a no-relief effort.

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