LA Salle advanced to the UAAP baseball finals with one game to spare, setting up a title showdown with early finalist Ateneo as the Green Archers turned back the Blue Batters, 14-12, on Thursday at the at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
The game was supposed to be the final elimination-round match for both teams, but La Salle still had an incomplete match as tournament officials stopped their game against University of the Philippines on Sunday due to darkness.
Tournament officials were still determining at posting time whether to resume the game, but the Green Archers’ 6-3 win-loss record was enough to move them to the finals.
Ateneo, which claimed a spot in the finals with seven straight wins, wound up its elimination stint with three consecutive losses.
The Green Archers scored seven runs in the first inning to set up a rematch of last season's championship series.
Game One of the best-of-three series is set on March 5 at the Rizal diamond.
Franco Hashimoto capped off the first inning with a two-run before Carly Laurel gave up two runs in five innings of relief for the Green Archers.
Starting pitcher Tiwi Park gave up seven runs on seven hits but the Green Archers still had a 9-7 lead after three innings. La Salle was ahead 14-10 going into the last inning.
“Sabi ko (kay Park), kailangan ko lang sa kanya at least two to three innings ma-hold lang niya then Charly will relieve him. Maganda naman na nagampanan niya tapos umiiskor din kami,” said La Salle coach Joseph Orillana.
Ateneo scored two runs and got the bases loaded in the ninth inning but Inigo Untalan popped out to end the game.
“Tiwala ako sa mga players. It just happened siguro na may konting pressure kaya hindi sila naka-execute nung last inning,” said Orillana.