Eagles also soar in baseball firmament
MANILA, Philippines - The days of singing the blues are over for the Ateneo baseball team as it finally crowned itself the new UAAP champion via a 4-0 disposal of previous winner National U in yesterday’s rubber match for the Season 75 crown at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Rookie pitcher Miguel Salud and reliable hitter Matt Laurel churned out MVP performances as the Blue Eagles completed the 2-1 series win and captured the baseball diadem for the first time since joining the league in 1978.
“This is history for Ateneo. We’ve worked hard and long for this,” said Ateneo coach Emerson Barandoc. It was sweet redemption for the Blue Eagles, who erased the stigma of their heartbreaking 8-9 loss in Game Two. After winning Game One (6-2), AdMU appeared headed to their maiden title when they went up, 8-6, going to the bottom of the ninth only to surrender three runs and allow NU to tie the series.
Salud pitched a seven-hitter and fanned out six batters he faced in a no-relief job. With him spearheading defense, Ateneo quashed the uprising of NU batters, especially in the last four innings when the Bulldogs sent men on scoring position in a spirited bid to trim Ateneo’s 4-0 lead.
“We were able to defend well and our hitting clicked,” said Barandoc, who previously led University of the Philippines to four titles.
The Eagles tagged NU hurler Aries Oruga with nine hits, including three in the first inning that they converted into two runs for a 2-0 lead.
“It was a good game. Everybody was hitting well on both sides but it was just breaks of the game,” said NU team manager Wopsy Zamora, noting how the Bulldogs left 13 men on base throughout the match.
NU, which had previously showed its ability to fight back from deficits, failed to duplicate the back-to-back feats of its 1966 and 1967 teams.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of in losing. We showed the heart of champion and fought on until the last inning,” said Zamora.
Salud, who issued 144 total pitches, was named co-MVP with Laurel (2-of-3, two runs, one RBI), who started things off for Ateneo with a run off Bocboc Bernardo’s single.
The 18-year-old Salud also went home with Rookie of the Year and Best Pitcher honors while Laurel was feted for Most Home Runs and Most RBIs. UST’s John Conge (Best Slugger and Best Hitter) and James Legaspi (Most Stolen Bases) rounded out the winners’ circle.