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    Katayama Baseball Academy off to strong start in PBL Open Conference

    May 25, 2019

    FORMER La Salle Green Batter Carlos Munoz and ex-Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Laurel made a triumphant return to the diamond last weekend.

    Behind the two stalwarts, the Katayama Baseball Academy Stars trashed the young Rizal Technological University Thunder in just five innings, 13-0, during the opening weekend of the 2019 Philippine Baseball League Open Conference.

    "I made the team because I wanted to give an opportunity to the players who graduated from the UAAP," said KBA head coach Keiji Katayama.

    In his very first at-bat after a year-long absence from the game, right fielder Munoz slammed a home run to right field for a quick 2-0 lead.

    "I'm happy to have a baseball team with Carlos, Matt, and SJ [San Juan]. I hope they return to the game because they still have a chance to make it to the National Team," added Katayama about having the trio in this tournament organized by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association with the support of the Philippine Sports Commission.

    Munoz had three runs batted-in while ex-UP shortstop Mark Tuballas had three, while former Adamson third baseman made two.

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    UAAP Season 81 Finals MVP Kiko Gesmundo picthed three hitless innings while striking out four batters.

    After their quick game, KBA also played an exhibition contest against South Korean weekend warriors from Jeju Province.

    "It's very, very nice because this is a goodwill game," said PABA secretary-general Pepe Munoz. "At first I was unsure about it because we are very busy in trying to fix baseball in the Philippines. Secondly, we don't know them at all.

    "When they showed up, they were very good. We were hoping to give them a series of games but time would not allow it," he added.

    Also last Saturday, Jerome Ponce connected on the first home run of the conference that led to the Thunder's 8-2 whipping of the Philippine Air Force.

    National team standout Aids Bernardo pitched seven innings for Thunder, allowing seven hits while fanning five Lawins.

    Air Force bounced back a day later with an 8-3 victory over the UST Golden Sox.

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    The Adamson Soaring Falcons opened the conference by eking out a 3-1 win over the NU Bulldogs, the IPPC Nationals thrashed the Ateneo Blue Eagles 7-3, and the DLSU Green Batters escaping RTU-Alums 11-6.

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