MANILA -- Defending champion De La Salle University exploded for 14 runs in the 10th inning to carve a come-from-behind 21-8 win over rival Ateneo de Manila University, Sunday at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.
This season-high in runs saw the Green Batters to a share of top spot with University of the Philippines at 4-1. Meanwhile, Ateneo slipped to 2-3.
Joshua Pineda made amends of his up-and-down stint at the mound for De La Salle and finished with five RBIs, including an inside-the-park homer in the 10th inning that also scored shortstop Lord Aragorn De Vera and catcher Renato Samuel Jr.
The Green Batters' starting pitcher ended with three hits on seven at-bats, scoring two runs himself.
The win, though, needed to come in late and this is something coach Joseph Orillana is concerned with.
"Ang lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila is yung 'pag start pa lang ng game, score na kaagad. First to third innings doon kami nagla-lag, ma-score-an kami. Tapos in the middle of the game, do'n na lang kami, medyo nagigising. Although, lumalaban naman kami, pero dapat start pa lang ng game mainit kagad," the champion mentor said.
The Green Batters nonetheless made it count with the win.
Down one at 6-7 heading into the last inning, De La Salle tied the game with former UAAP MVP Iggy Escaño crossing the plate off a free base given to third baseman Joseph Alcontin with the bases loaded. Three outs then on their defensive side of the same frame set up that huge turnaround in the extension as relief pitcher De Vera retired Luis Capati and Ezekiel Laygo.
De Vera eventually got the job done on the mound, limiting Ateneo to five hits and three runs in the five innings he pitched. He also finished with six strikeouts, including those two dismissals in the must-finish ninth frame.
Shortstop Lorenzo Montemayor earlier sent Ateneo to a 5-0 lead with the game's first inside-the-park solo home run, which is one of the shortstop's three hits in four at-bats. Third baseman Javi Limpo also sent three runners home to go with one hit on four at-bats.
Ateneo relief pitcher Capati was able to hold De La Salle when he came on for Pineda in the seventh inning, limiting the titleholders to three hits and one run, before that scoring binge in the 10th tainted his stint.