CEBU and Manila arranged a title rematch for the Baseball Philippines Series 9 crown after defeating separate foes in a pair of sudden-death semifinal matches on Sunday at the Rizal ballpark.
The Dolphins nailed a fifth appearance in the finals of the six-year-old league with a 17-9 beating of the Alabang Tigers while the Sharks overcame twice-to-beat Dumaguete Uni-bikers, 12-10.
The Sharks, who entered the semifinals in third spot with a 9-6 win-loss mark, kept alive their bid for their fourth consecutive championship after beating the young Dumaguete squad, which had an 11-4 win-loss slate in the eliminations.
On the other hand, the Dolphins will be seeking their third crown.
The best-of-three-finals series starts on July 14 with Manila trying to repeat their sweep of the Dolphins in the Series 8 finale.
The Dolphins had a big first and fourth innings, scoring five and seven runs, respectively, to pull through with the easy victory.
The Sharks, meanwhile, had to work hard for the win as they scored four runs in the fourth inning after trailing 1-4.
Cebu’s Joennard Pareja tripled to lead off the game before scoring on a wild pitch. Aprix Santos singled home before scoring on an error to pad Cebu’s lead to 5-0 at the top of the first inning.
Lorenzo Ubungen’s bases loaded sacrifice fly began the fourth-inning binge by the Dolphins with Ram Casey Alipio and Aprix Santos belting run-scoring singles to make it 13-2.
Ubungen slammed a solo home run in the eighth inning in which Cebu scored four more times to raise its lead to 17-4. The Tigers got five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning but the effort proved too late.
Manila’s Jennald Pareja completed the Sharks’ comeback in the fourth with a hit to center field, scoring Paco Tantuico and Emerson Atilano, who began the inning with a two-run double of his own.
After the Sharks led 10-4, the Uni-bikers were able to trim the deficit to 10-12 after scoring three runs in each of the seventh and eighth frames before rain suspended play at the bottom of the eighth for half an hour.
By the time play resumed, Dumaguete’s momentum had fizzled out as Manila reliever Jayson Dimacutac retired the last three batters to earn the save.