MANILA -- Defending champion De La Salle University used a strong start and a huge seventh inning to stop National University in a 19-6, 8th inning rout for its fifth straight win in the UAAP Season 85 Baseball tournament, Wednesday at the UP Diliman Baseball Field.
The Green Batters, who took the lead for now at 5-1 with co-leader University of the Philippines having a game at hand, scored six runs in the first inning for the hot start coach Joseph Orillana was waiting for.
"Nasunod naman yung game plan na from the start ng game talaga, talagang start strong na, mainit na kaagad. Nasunod naman yung dapat na ganun 'yung atake namin sa start ng game," he said.
Four straight hits set the tone for De La Salle, ending with shortstop Aragorn De Vera scoring rightfielder Julius Diaz and first baseman Iggy Escaño sending centerfielder Shinji Kajihara and De Vera home for the 3-0 lead.
Down the order, starting third baseman Vincent Flores, second baseman Joseph Alcontin, and rightfielder John Mhark Segui, added to the lead to put up the 6-0 advantage.
UAAP Season 79 Most Valuable Player Escaño eventually paced the Green Batters' offense with a double and a homer in his three at-bats, scoring two runs-batted-in, while Kajihara added two hits on three at-bats.
The key to De La Salle's victory, though, was defense as pitchers Joshua Pineda, Pio Villamiel, Flores, and Renato Samuel Jr. limited NU to six runs in 10 hits.
Pineda faced 23 batters in the six innings he pitched and limited them two runs before the Bulldogs scored two and he got relieved.
The Bulldogs extended the game with a four-run seventh inning to avoid a regulation game with outfielder Reynante Aranzanso taking the lead with a single to the left side of the field before crossing the plate off another hit from fellow outfielder Nigel Paule.
That is all the Bulldogs could manage as the Green Batters' offensive barrage that their platoon of pitchers faced from starting pitcher Cyril Antipolo to relief pitchers MJ Carolino, Kenneth Maulit, John Calanday, and Aranzanso was too much to overcome.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.