AS the dust settled inside the historic Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, the two protagonists from the UAAP Season 80 baseball tournament were the last two teams standing.
Defending UAAP champions Adamson Soaring Falcons and the Philippine Baseball League's top-seeded team De La Salle Green Batters will square off for the league's first-ever championship.
The winner-take-all finale takes place on Sunday, February 3 at 12 p.m.
Adamson though needed a miracle in the diamond to make it to the final as the Soaring Falcons needed a huge ninth-inning rally to boot out second-seed Itakura Parts Philippines Corporation Nationals, 10-9.
Behind a huge seven-run seventh inning, IPPC held an imposing 9-3 lead heading into the final frame.
"Simula pa lang, sabi ko sa kanila na yung IPPC, kahit all-star sila, walang training yan e. Kailangan namin sila sabayan sa paluan," said Adamson head coach Orlando Binarao. "Yun ang nangyari nung last two innings, yung pitchers nila bumigay kaya kami nakahabol."
After pitching three innings, National Team stalwart Darwin Dela Calzada caved in to start the 9th inning, giving up three hits - capped by a two-RBI double by outfielder Christian Maigue and another hit by Lexter Carandang.
Last season's MVP Jerome Yenson tried to hold off his former squad but gave up back-to-back walks. A fielding error allowed one more run to cut the deficit down to just three.
With no warm-up, Philippine ace Vladi Eguia was called up to the mound. And it resulted in disaster for the Nationals as a base hit courtesy of Kenneth Villafana brought in the tying run while Villafana would later be brought home by Bryan Castillo for the go-ahead run.
Carandang and the Adamson defense held on to close out the game, including a highlight catch by third baseman Gerald Riparip off a Jarus Inobio foul ball that went way left.
La Salle, on the other hand, had to work as well to pick up their seventh straight win.
Former UAAP MVP Iggy Escano and Anton Rosas linked up in a sixth-inning rally to eliminate the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 11-8.
Down 7-3, the Green Batters blasted Ateneo with a six-run, five-hit 6th inning that saw Escano blast a two-RBI triple followed by a two-run double from Rosas.
"Hindi ako naging masaya sa resulta kanina. Nagbibilang sila kanina na plus-three na lang, hanggang bumaba yung lead," lamented Green Batters chief tactician Joseph Orillana. "Ayoko sila masanay ng ganun. Tapos sa huli pa lang maghahabol. Mas maganda kung bugbugan kaagad."
Facing each other once again for all the marbles, both Orillana and Binarao will use the finale as a test to see their progress ahead of the UAAP season.
"Hindi naman gigil. Same approach pa rin kami," shared Orillana, who was the first baseman for IPPC in the semis. "Yung aggressiveness namin at winning attitude pa rin yung importante for tomorrow."
"Sobrang excited kami. UAAP Finals rematch ito e. Maganda kasi matatantiya namin kung nasan na kami bago pa mag-UAAP," added Binarao as the Soaring Falcons lost to the Green Batters on opening day, 0-11.
IPPC and Ateneo battle for the bronze at 8 am.