The defending three-time UAAP Baseball champions, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, lost their first Finals game in three years last Friday against rivals De La Salle University Green Batters.
It was an uncharacteristic game for the highest scoring team in the league as the Katipunan-based squad was limited to just three runs and eight hits in the game. Moreover, the high-octane Ateneo offense left a total of nine of their runners stranded on base.
“How many chances did we have? Three innings? Four innings? Three runners on base with no outs and we did not deliver. It’s our own doing din e,” Ateneo baseball program director Randy Dizer said about the Game One loss. “We did not deliver when it counts most.”
During the first half of the game alone, the Blue Batters were not able to take advantage of La Salle’s errors as five runners were left stranded. “We had more left on bases during the early part of the game (than hits). If we converted on that, it would have changed the complexion of the game,” he lamented.
Even in committing two (official) errors in the game, Dizer stressed that it was the lack of offense that led to the loss. “On defense, we had three errors but that did not cost us the game,” he stressed. “What can cost you the game is not delivering pag kailangan. That’s thrice, two runners and no outs.”
Dizer cited the bottom end of the fifth inning as the prime example of the team’s offensive slump. Clean-up hitter Kai Furusawa singled to right field to bring home two runners with no outs. However, with La Salle starting pitcher Boo Barandiaran relieved for Diego Lozano, the Blue Eagles were not able to punch in more runs against the rookie.
“Two runners on base, we already scored two runs, and we failed to add to it. Yun yung sayang,” he said with regret.
In addition, the lack of hitting against Lozano puzzled the champion coach as the La Sallian freshman was teammates with the majority of the Blue Eagle back then in high school or in the little league. “They played against Diego [Lozano] for a long time na. They were also teammates,” he said about the Blue Eagles tagging Lozano only once in the five innings he pitched. “So they know how Diego pitches. It’s just that wala tayong nilabas. Yun lang.”
With just two days to prepare before the second game of the best-of-three Finals begins, Dizer disclosed that he will adjust his pitching rotation and batting order for the game. “We just have to hope we get back sa next game,” he closed.