MIGUEL SALUD fanned six batters in a complete game shutout as the towering rookie lifted Ateneo to its first-ever UAAP baseball crown with a 4-0 victory over National University in Game Three on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Salud yielded seven hits, stranding 13 NU batters, to power the Blue Eagles to their first crown in the diamond since joining the league in 1978 after moving from the NCAA.
Ateneo also bounced back from a heartbreaking season-ender last year, when the Eagles took the title series opener only to lose the next two games against the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were looking to repeat the comeback after losing Game One and tying the series with a Game Two win, scoring three runs in the final frame to overcome a two-run Ateneo lead.
But the Blue Eagles made sure they came out on top this time.
The 18-year-old 6-foot Salud, nephew of PBA commissioner Chito Salud, shared the Most Valuable Player trophy with slugger Matt Laurel, who homered in Game Two.
Ateneo coach Emerson Barandoc said that they worked on their defense prior to the game and hoped that offense would follow suit.
“Inexpect namin na kung sa paluan, may laban kami. Pinagtrabahuan talaga naming ’yung depensa namin,” said Barandoc, who had won four titles with University of the Philippines previously.
“Gagawin ko pa rin ’yung katulad ng ginawa ko sa UP,” Barandoc added.
Laurel tripled with two outs in the first inning and scored on a single by Bocboc Bernardo, who scored on a bases-loaded walk off Inigo Untalan.
Untalan walked and reached second base on a passed ball before scoring when Pelos Remollo belted a single in the fourth, whie Dio Remollo’s sacrifice fly advanced Laurel home for a four-run advantage.
NU couldn’t break into the scoreboard even when injured slugger Ram Casey Alipio came into the game as a pinch-hitter with two outs and runners at the corners in the top of the eight. Alipio swung on Salud’s first pitch and flied out.
The Bulldogs threatened once more in the top of the ninth with runners on third and second following hits by MJ Gante and Bryan Lumbres. But Salud, once again, stranded those runners with two groundouts.