DEFENDING champion Manila and Alabang lived to fight another day after defeating the top two seeds on Sunday in the semifinals of Baseball Philippines Series 9 at the Rizal ballpark.
The Manila Sharks, needing to overcome a twice-to-win handicap in the semifinals, relied on their pitching staff and a four-run fourth inning to defeat the second-ranked Dumaguete Uni-bikers, 6-1.
Tino Ubungen and Matt Laurel slammed back-to-back home runs in the first inning to lift the Alabang Tigers to a 9-6 win over the top-seed Cebu Dolphins. The Tigers also need to beat the Dolphins one more time to clinch a finals slot.
Manila's veteran pitcher Tawi Delos Reyes had four innings of one-hit ball before turning over the reins to Jayson Dimacutac, who yielded six hits to Dumaguete’s high-powered offense.
Manila finally made it to the scoreboard in the fourth, scoring four runs to complement Delos Reyes’ pitching. After Edward Landicho and Ferdinand Badrina walked, they advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Francis Gesmundo to set up Gian Llaguno, who singled home Landicho.
Badrina scored home Culubong, who also crossed home plate on a single by Emerson Atilano following a steal to home plate by Mark Ong that made it 4-0.
Delos Reyes issued his only hit of the game on a one-out double by Mike Gante to score Pelos Remollo, who drew a lead-off walk. Delos Reyes was replaced by Dimacutac and never allowed another Dumaguete run.
Ubungen blasted a homer to left after a Carlos Laurel single followed by a shot across the right field fence by Laurel to open up a 3-0 lead.
Despite a two-run answer by the Dolphins in the bottom of the first, Ubungen also drilled run-scoring hits in the fifth and sixth innings to break the game wide open for Alabang.