Thirteen Years Gone: Green Batters clinch first UAAP championship title since 2003 with comeback win
Published on March 15th, 2016 | by Deion Bandril
The DLSU Green Batters win their first UAAP baseball title after a 13-year championship drought. The finals series ended with a sweep by the Green-and-White team, 8-3 and 11-9. The co-Finals MVPs were pitchers Diego Lozano and Boo Barandiaran. The last game of the series took place yesterday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
The Starting Innings and DLSU’s consistency
The DLSU Green Batters began the game focusing on defense. They were able to hold down the Ateneo Blue Batters scoreless during the first three innings. The Loyola-based squad were rough throughout the starting innings thanks to DLSU’s stifling defense. The first three innings were highlighted with Green Pitcher Diego Lozano’s hot pitching especially his pickoffs. His pitching anchored the DLSU defense thus resulting to ADMU looking clueless while batting.
The defense was followed up with consistent offense coming from the Green Batters. The Taft-based squad made three runs in the first three innings with a run per inning. The bottom of the first inning began with the Best Hitter of the season, Paolo Salud, walking to first. It then followed with Cholo Dominguez flying out. Iggy Escaño on the other hand made a rough single to move Salud to second base. The King Unicorn and team captain, Carlos Muñoz, made a deadly RBI double to the left field to bring home Salud. With that, Salud scored the first run of the game. Most RBIs awardee, Tuwi Park, followed up with a single but Muñoz gets tagged out at second. The first inning ended with Kiko Gesmundo flying out, 1-0.
The second inning proved to be the same for the Green Batters as they made another run to extend the lead to two runs, 2-0. Paul Naguit opened the second inning by getting ousted by the Blue Batters. However, Josh Salinas retaliates with a huge triple to put himself in prime scoring position. Franco Hashimoto looked to bring Salinas home but couldn’t capitalize by grounding out. Salud, with his hitting prowess, was able to get the job done and bring home Salinas with an RBI double. The inning still ended with only one run as Salud got caught taking third, 2-0.
The third inning began spectacularly for DLSU; with Dominguez grounding out, Escaño looked to make a powerful hit. A solo homerun was then made by Iggy Escaño to increase their score tally, 3-0. With the quick run, the inning also ended quickly with both sluggers, Muñoz and Park, grounding out and striking out respectively. Batting appeared consistent for the Green-and-White team and the momentum was definitely on their side. However, the middle innings quickly changed the course of the game.
The Middle Innings and Ateneo’s Revenge
The ADMU Blue Batters immediately changed the tide of the match upon entering the fourth inning. They broke the game open as they made a six run rally. The highlight of the Blue Batters’ batting was when they made a two RBI double to extend their lead. The Loyola-based squad were able to take away Lozano’s focus on pitching by taking their time and calling timeouts. It was obvious that the Ateneo coaching staff did a wonderful job on scouting La Salle’s pitching. Diego Lozano slowly became worried and fatigued with the big rally of the Blue Batters. Lozano gave up four runs to the Blue-and-White team. He was later relieved of pitching duties and was replaced with another rookie, Arvin Herrera. The Ateneo Blue Batters were looking for revenge as they casted another RBI triple while Herrera was pitching. They quickly followed up with a RBI single to finally complete their six run rally. The bombing of the Blue Batters finally ended with great defense from DLSU catcher Paul Naguit and a fly out by Ateneo. At the end of the top of the fourth inning, Ateneo was leading 3-6.
DLSU tried to catch up but the Ateneo defense proved too much for them. They ended up scoreless for the fourth and fifth inning. Blue Batter Remollo tried to continue the scoring run by making another run in the fifth inning. The sixth inning still showed great batting from the Blue-and-White team by making another run. However, defense from La Salle began to make a comeback. The DLSU defense was highlighted with an outfield throw from Dominguez to tag out Blue Batter Hilario by Naguit as he tried to take home. Confidence slowly began to build up for the DLSU Green Batters.
The Green Batters showed signs of life at the bottom of the sixth inning. They made two runs to cut the Ateneo lead, 5-8. The bottom of the sixth began with Captain Carl Muñoz walking to first. This was then followed by a single by Tuwi Park, however Muñoz gets tagged while taking second. With one out, Kiko Gesmundo takes a hit from a wild pitch and walks to first. With a spontaneous bunt from Paul Naguit, he takes first thus loading all bases. Josh Salinas looked to score but he eventually struck out. From out of nowhere, Franco Hashimoto made a devastating two RBI single that brought home Park and Gesmundo. The sixth inning ended with Paolo Salud grounding out. The Green Batters were slowly catching up with the score at that point, 5-8.
The Dying Innings and DLSU sealing the deal
The seventh inning still showed a hopeful Ateneo team looking to steal game two. They made a run to throw away DLSU confidence. The Blue Batters eventually made their last run of the game to finally extend their lead to four runs, 5-9. Though they were able to crack DLSU’s defense, Boo Barandiran’s pitching overcame Ateneo’s batting. The quick and solid defense being played by the Green Batters proved too much for ADMU thus limiting them to one run.
The comeback effort finally came upon entering the bottom of the seventh inning. The historic inning for DLSU also featured a six run rally. The bottom of seventh opened with a single by Cholo Dominguez. This was then followed by a powerful double by Iggy Escaño, All the bases were then loaded as Carlos Muñoz walked to first. Tuwi Park came in and looked to bring home his teammates. However, he was walked thus giving Dominguez the run as he walked to home, 6-9. Eventually, Escaño found his way home and continued the comeback effort, 7-9. As Kiko Gesmundo was about to bat, silence shrouded the whole stadium. He then made a game tying two RBI double as he brought home two of his teammates, 9-9. The whole La Salle crowd was raving and cheering as the rally continued. Once again with all bases loaded, Mr. Best Hitter Paolo Salud got the job done. He made a two RBI double to finally take the lead again for DLSU, 11-9. The Blue Batters became frustrated with that huge six run rally by the Green Batters. The defense of Ateneo was quick enough to end the DLSU rally with a hefty double play. The seventh inning ended with DLSU finally on top once again, 11-9.
After Barandiaran taking over pitching duties, defense finally made sense for the Green Batters. Strike out after strike out, confidence for La Salle was at an all-time high. Coordinated defensive stops were the key factors on why they held Ateneo scoreless for the last two innings. A scary scene in the eighth inning came with King Unicorn, Carlos Muñoz, injuring himself while going for the catch. The eight inning ended with both teams scoreless, 11-9.
The top of the ninth was crunch time for Ateneo as they needed two more runs to extend their four-peat hopes alive. But the DLSU defense led by Green Pitcher, Boo Barandiaran, proved too much for the Ateneo Blue Batters. Two straight clutch strikeouts by the former Pitcher of the year awardee was the dream-killer for Ateneo. A fly out by the Blue Batters ended the season for both squads with the Green Batters overcoming the defending champions, 11-9. The DLSU Green Batters finally reach the promised land and win the championship after thirteen long years.
History in the making
History was made at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium yesterday. The DLSU Green Batters clinched their fourth UAAP Baseball title ever after a thirteen-year championship drought. The Green Batters proved that “third time’s the charm” as they finally sweep the ADMU Blue Batters after three straight finals confrontations. The sweep felt bitter sweet for the Green Batters as they’ve been swept two consecutive time in the finals by the Blue Batters. For the first time in UAAP Baseball finals history, there were two finals MVPS. The co-Finals MVPS were both pitchers Diego Lozano and Boo Barandiaran. This was thanks to their pitching that anchored the DLSU defense, their deadly strike outs, and hefty pickoffs.
The last championship was during the 2002-2003 UAAP Baseball season that was led by MVP at that time and now head coach, Coach Joseph Orillana. Coach Joseph had a lot to say about how different it was to lead the team to championship now as a coach, He commented, “Mas malaki ang value nito, as a champion coach. Mas mahirap ang task kasi ngayon coach na, di na as a player. As a coach kasi it takes a lot of effort to motivate and set the team’s gameplans. Buti na lang na execute nila ng maayos ngayon. Sobrang masaya, masarap.”. The game was highlighted by the comeback of the Green Batters at the seventh inning. Coach Orillana implored the team to stay calm, he added, “Sabi ko sa kanila wag na sila mag-panic. Yung six runs na yan madali lang habulin yan. Ang sinabi ko lang stay focused at follow lagi yung gameplan.” Coach Joseph Orillana gave even more back to his Alma mater. From leading a championship team as a player to leading a championship to as a coach, he really does thank and appreciate the whole Lasallian community. He appreciates the fact that the whole Lasallian community supports them and to know that the team is not fighting this battle alone.
The journey to the promised land was not easy for the DLSU Green Batters. They tallied a 7-3 record in the season, they hustled and worked hard to get to the top. With a commanding sweep against the defending champions, the ADMU Blue Batters, the future looks bright for the Green Batters. This can be seen through the individual awards awarded to Green Batters Tuwi Park (Most RBIs), Paolo Salud (Best Hitter), Diego Lozano (Finals MVP) and Boo Barandiaran (Finals MVP). The thirteen years of tragedy and pain are finally gone with a sweet championship victory. Once again, the DLSU Green Batters are your new UAAP Baseball champions!