ALFREDO Olivares pushed the winning run home in the bottom of the ninth to complete National University’s stunning comeback over defending champion Ateneo, 5-4, at the start of the second round of the UAAP Season 76 baseball tournament Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Olivares’ sacrifice fly capped off a two-run ninth for a come-from-behind victory by the Bulldogs, who won for only the second time in six outings.
Herxel Fortunato also scored the game-tying run after sparking the Bulldogs’ rally with a lead-off double, before Julius Mondragon chalked up the winning run off the Olivares sacrifice.
After he doubled, Fortunato reached third safely on a close play after a Mondragon bunt and a throw by reliever Adrian Bernardo to third baseman Matt Laurel that came late, according to the umpire.
The call, however, dismayed the Ateneo coaching staff, stressing Fortunato should have been out at third.
Ateneo’s complain went for naught as Mondragon reached second after Jezreel Rosita scored Fortunato home with a single for a 4-4 tie. Mondragon also advanced to third when Ateneo catcher Dio Remollo committed a fielding error off a bunt by Mike Gante setting up Olivares’ heroics.
Olivares’ deep left sacrifice fly was enough for Mondragon to easily trot home.
The win gave NU glimmer of hope for a return trip to the Finals as another loss meant a further drop in the standings.
“I told them to play this game like a championship game,” said NU team manager Wopsy Zamora, whose team lost to Ateneo just last week, 3-2.
The Blue Eagles lost despite holding a 4-3 lead entering the ninth inning with Laurel and Leandro Banzon coming through with RBI singles in the first and second, and a Remollo run off an error in the third.
Despite the loss, Ateneo remained in second with a 4-2 card but is now two games behind top-ranked De La Salle, which kept its unbeaten slate going with a 16-7 victory over University of Santo Tomas.
Felix Imperial had four RBIs for the Green Archers who holds a solid 6-0 record.