New Era: NU Dethrones DLSU to End 12-Year UAAP Baseball Title Drought

NU stops DLSU from securing a UAAP Baseball three-peat to capture their first title in 12 years.

National University ended a 12-year title drought in UAAP Baseball, dethroning back-to-back champion De La Salle University, 4-2, in Game 2 of the Season 86 Finals on Sunday at the UP Baseball Field.

The Bulldogs claimed their fourth overall UAAP crown in baseball and annexed the school’s fourth golden trophy in the collegiate level after men’s athletics, men’s taekwondo, and women’s tennis.

“Nung nakita ko ‘tong mga bata na ‘to last season, sabi ko may skills naman, kulang lang sa puso. Kaya nung binigay sa ‘kin ‘yung trabaho, ‘yun talaga inuna ko,” said NU head coach Romar Landicho, who replaced Egay delos Reyes during the off-sesaon.

“Happy ako sa pinakita nila kaya nakuha namin ‘to,” he added.

With De La Salle breathing down their necks, the Bustillos-based side turned to its bread and butter all season long: its defense.

Closer Amiel De Guzman ended the four-hour-long game on his own terms with a strikeout of JR Samuel, denying the Green Batters with runners on second and third.

De Guzman, who is in his sophomore year and from Batangas, was the Best Pitcher of the season with an earned run average of .434.

With the game hanging in the balance at a 2-2 deadlock in the sixth inning, the Bustillos-based side reclaimed the two-run lead, capitalizing on errors by the Green Batters.

The Bulldogs, who won Game 1, 8-4, just last Thursday, showed their intentions early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning. However, the Green Batters produced two runs, one each in the third and fourth innings, to level the proceedings.

NU, though, restored the cushion with a significant turnaround in the sixth inning.

Down with one out, John Calanday pushed a hit to the middle and forced an error from De La Salle second baseman JR Samuel, putting a runner on first.

Two consecutive fielding errors saw Cyril Antipolo, who ran for Calanday, and Kevin Naulit crossing home for the differential runs before Green Batters’ substitute Joshua Pineda stopped the bleeding with a pitch that Samuel finally caught.

The defense, though, from both sides deemed the advantage enough for NU’s much-awaited ascension to the throne.

Graduating pitcher MJ Carolino started for the Bulldogs and played seven and one-third innings to steer the victory, earning him the Finals MVP in his final collegiate game.

“Sobrang nakaka-overwhelm po talaga. Masaya po ako na, finally, aalis po ako na champion,” said Carolino, the Season 81 Best Pitcher.

On the other hand, the Green Batters took their last turns at the bases with Joshua Pineda, Shinji Kajihara, JM Segui, Vince Flores, Marco Micael, Gab Dunglao, and Jasper Crisostomo after the game.

University of the Philippines’ captain Ian Mercado bagged the Best Hitter (.524 BA) and Best Slugger (.690 SA) plums to garner the Season MVP award.

Fighting Maroons freshman Aaron Nicha, who was the lone batter with a home run this season aside from Mercado, was adjudged as the Rookie of the Year.

Prince Harry Geronimo from the University of Santo Tomas had the Most Runs-Batted-In (14), while Adamson University’s John Leonel Matanguihan finished with the Most Stolen Bases (12).

Images courtesy of UAAP Media.

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