MANILA, Philippines - Ateneo set off its title-retention bid with an emphatic seven-inning demolition of Adamson, 15-3, to kick off action in the UAAP Season 76 baseball tournament at Rizal Memorial Stadium yesterday.
The Blue Eagles brushed aside an early 0-3 deficit, unleashing a searing offensive from the bottom of the second inning on and shutting out the upset-conscious Falcons the rest of the way to clear the path for the abbreviated victory.
“We are the defender champs, so we want to show everyone how determined we are to defend the crown,” said Ateneo coach Emerson Barandoc.
Rival La Salle also served notice of its serious bid by upending Season 75 runner-up National U, 5-2, behind the sizzling performance of pitcher Carlos Muñoz, who threw a five-hitter and struck out 10 batters in a no-relief job.
The Ateneans tagged Adamson’s Melvin Rosita and Raymond Matic with a combined 10 hits to get the job done.
“Kumonnect kami, ang hitting sobrang ganda, maganda rin ang pitching (We connected, our excellent batting and pitching served us well in this game),” said Barandoc, whose pitchers Andrew Tan and rookies Miguel Dumlao and Jaime Ignacio Cojuangco yielded eight hits.
Adamson jumped the gun on Ateneo, scoring two runs in the first and another in the second against Tan but they went silent from there.
Ateneo unloaded a two-run binge in the bottom second then grabbed the driver’s seat, 6-3, with a four-run explosion spiked by Ryon Tionloc’s two-run triple in the third. Three runs for AdMU in the fourth and four more in the fifth put the game beyond reach.
The Eagles’ rousing victory was duplicated by the Archers in the second game, setting the stage for an explosive matchup between the two rivals on Thursday.
Muñoz left the Bulldogs either swinging on air or popping easy flies, scattering five hits, all single.