HOST Tanauan City restored local pride by toppling holders ILLAM, 11-10, in a nail-biting Junior League Baseball finale on Tuesday in the Little League Philippines Series 2013 in Tanauan City, Batangas.
Playing in the same diamond in Barangay Sala where their fancied Big League Baseball team got sideswiped by Muntinlupa (2-12) a day before, the Tanauan Junior Leaguers did not let the opportunity slip away and brought a successful end to their campaign in the 13-14 hostilities.
"Pinahirapan kami. Magandang laban talaga," said Tanauan coach Oca Natanauan. "Yung batting namin ang nagdala sa amin sa first championship sa Junior League after maging runner up sa ILLAM last year."
Tanauan peppered ILLAM's pitchers with 14 hits, including six in the third inning that the hosts translated into nine runs to seize an 11-5 cushion.
ILLAM sliced it to 11-6 in the bottom sixth and cranked it all up in the seventh, unloading four runs to threaten at 11-10. But then Tanauan came up with big defensive plays with the bases loaded to secure the final three outs to the delight of their townsfolk.
ILLAM was gunning for a second crown in two days after its earlier conquest in Senior League Baseball (15-16 division).
Bannered by the core that ruled the Juniors last year, ILLAM brought its winning form into Seniors, capping its dominance with a 17-6 romp over Marikina on Monday.
"Pitching and hitting keyed our victory," said ILLAM coach Arsenic Laurel, who had at his disposal 11 pitchers who can all hit. "We're deeper this year and if we keep up our hitting, I think we have a chance to win the (Asia Pacific) Regionals and go to the World Series."
Sta. Cruz, Laguna captured the Seniors softball tiara via a 4-3 escape act over a GK Smokey Mountain team that enjoyed its best-ever finish in the Philippine Series.
Mercinelle Arroyo and Gayzel Dilay pounced on a costly error by Smokey Mountain in the sixth inning to put in the game-winning runs and improve from third last year to champions.