MANILA, Philippines – After an unpredictable final day in the UAAP Season 82 juniors baseball elimination round, Ateneo de Manila University clinched the first of two tickets to the best-of-3 finals.
This, after Ateneo made quick work of National University (NU)-Nazareth School in just five innings, 12-0.
Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas (UST) sent De La Salle-Zobel home, 4-3, Sunday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
The Blue Eagles, the Bullpups, and the Junior Golden Sox ended up knotted in the standings with identical 4-2 slates. But Ateneo allowed the fewest runs during their encounters with the other two teams, allowing them to gain the finals berth.
NU and UST will figure in a knockout game on Tuesday, October 22 at 9 a.m.
"As I said, we are relieved to be in the finals after all of this but the work is not yet over," said Ateneo baseball program director Randy Dizer.
"We are still the underdogs here against NU and UST. Ang advantage lang namin is we have been playing for the last four years together."
After seeing UST win earlier in the day, Ateneo battered NU, which started the season with a 4-0 slate.
Already down 2-0 entering the third inning, the Bullpups figured in a nightmare frame, allowing nine runs on eight hits that turned the game into a rout.
Matthew San Juan was on fire on the bat, going a perfect 3-of-3 built on two doubles and a single. Joaquin Mendoza had three RBIs while Kean Agcaoili and Joaquin Casanova had a couple as well.
"Yun yung maganda pag nakakauna ka. Everything's easier for the pitcher," added Dizer as ace Zach Urbino only allowed two hits while striking out five Bullpups.
It did not help that NU's set-up pitcher Jerico Quilantang missed his second straight game due to chickenpox.
The Junior Golden Sox, on the other hand, leaned on a strong third inning against the Junior Green Batters.
De La Salle-Zobel pitcher Charles Calvadores could not find the strike zone that walked both Kenth Porras and Nicolas Erlano. A base hit by Alwyn Pinero knotted things up while a sacrifice fly and a grounder by Mark Abella and Byran Camarsi put UST up for good.
John Regalado sealed off the Green Batters' comeback attempt.
"Overwhelming ang aking saya. Last year fourth-place lang kami. Pinaghirapan namin ito kasi ang lalakas talaga ng kalaban," said UST head coach Jeffrey Santiago.
De La Salle-Zobel, who went winless for the season, saw Martin Amora, Pablo Capati, Jared Limjoco, Christian Altomonte, Teddy Cruz, Peter Nonaillada, and Jap Crisostomo make their final run around the diamond.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.