MANILA, Philippines - Streaking La Salle flashed its top form anew and demolished Santo Tomas, 16-7, for their sixth straight win in the UAAP Season 76 baseball tournament yesterday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Green Archers slammed in a combined eight runs in the second and third innings to overturn an early 0-2 deficit and sway the game to their side as they firmed up their hold of the leadership.
La Salle gained some more distance with its closest pursuers as second-running defending champion Ateneo fell to last season’s runner-up National U, 4-5, later in the day. The Blue Eagles dropped two wins behind the Taft-based clouters at 4-2 while the Bulldogs improved to 2-4.
Carlos Muñoz and Fernando Imperial led DLSU’s hot offensive (13 hits), accounting for four RBIs each with the former adding two runs on a 4-of-6 batting and the latter also posting a run on a 3-of-4 clip.
Pressed for a victory to revive their title bid after a so-so first round, the NU Bulldogs made some progress with their hard-earned come-from-behind disposal of the Eagles.
Trailing in the bottom ninth, 3-4, the Bulldogs dug deep into their reservoir of resolve and fought furiously to secure the two runs needed to steal the win.
Jezreel Rosita drove in Julius Mondragon for the equalizer then Alfredo Olivares Jr. made a sacrifice fly with bases loaded as NU took the ego-boosting triumph prior to their upcoming showdown with unbeaten La Salle.
“It’s all fighting spirit. We’re on survival mode (after a 1-4 card in the first round) and we would have been eliminated had we lost this game,” said NU team manager Wopsy Zamora. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and treat each game as a championship game.”
Herxel Fortunato started things off for NU with a double against Andrew Tan, forcing Ateneo to switch pitchers and send Adriane Bernardo on. But this did not hamper the NU batters as Mondragon made a successful bunt and reached first, allowing Fortunato to advance to second then steal third in a stolen base sequence that Ateneo vehemently disputed.
Rosita then slammed a single to left that drove in Fortunato for the equalizer. MJ Gante’s squeeze play filled the bases for NU and pouncing on the opportunity, made a sac fly to left that led to Mondragon’s game-winning run.