MANILA, Philippines - Tanauan City and San Antonio, Zambales routed their respective rivals yesterday to arrange a showdown for the title in the Little League Philippine Series at the Sumulong grounds in Marikina City.
The Tanauan batters overpowered ILLAM, 15-5, to make a return trip to the finals of the boys’ 11-12 years category which they ruled at their home turf last year.
San Antonio, for its part, waylaid a hapless Camarines Norte, 10-0, to make a surprise appearance in the championship against Tanauan which has kept the core of its last year’s champion team as well as members of the Palarong Pambansa-bound team representing Calabarzon.
“We’re just happy to surpass our quarterfinal effort last year,” said San Antonio coach Conrado Gutierrez, who steered his boys to the top in the North/Central Luzon bracket by downing Bulacan, 6-3, earlier.
“Making the finals is already an accomplishment for us and if we win, it will be a bonus,” he added.
Gutierrez, however, knows beating Tanauan will be a tough task.
“They’re the defending champions, the team to beat so we will need to play perfect baseball to pull the rug from under them,” he said.
Tanauan coach Romar Landicho, whose charges slammed General Trias, 17-0, to make it to the semis, said the key is to stay focused.
“I keep reminding the boys that any team here can beat us if we allow them to,” said Landicho.
It was a heartbreaking setback for ILLAM, which was hoping for another miracle against Tanauan after winning its match against Marikina, which beat the former by a run, via protest after the latter violated tournament rules on fielding players.
ILLAM, however, made up for its major league setback by topping the senior league baseball with a 13-3 thrashing of Muntinlupa and making the finals of junior league baseball with a 12-2 rout of Tanauan, 12-2.
ILLAM will play the winner between Muntinlupa and Antipolo.
In little league softball, Iloilo dumped ILLAM, 12-0, to forge a title showdown with Tanauan.
In senior league softball, Gawad Kalinga Smokey Mountain continued its giant-slaying ways by trouncing Bulacan, 15-5, to barge into the finals against Sta. Cruz, Laguna, which blanked Dasmariñas, 12-0.
The winners will represent the country in the Asia-Pacific Regionals slated June 30-July 6 in Clark, Pampanga.