UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas completed its comeback, outlasting Ateneo in Game Three, 4-3, to claim the UAAP Season 82 Juniors' Baseball crown, Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Ending Season 81 at last place, UST returned with vengeance this year for its second title in three years.
"Overwhelming, yun lang masasabi ko. Lahat ng credit sa laro na ito ay sa mga bata. Lumaban sila," expressed Junior Golden Sox head coach Jeffrey Santiago.
Up by just one at the bottom of the seventh inning, 4-3, UST pitcher John Rafael Regalado struck out the first two batters before Ezekiel Laygo and Marcel Guzman reached base, and with two on and two outs, Regalado fanned Dax Fabella, to deny Ateneo a walk-off win.
"Na control ng pitcher ko yung laro. Sumusunod naman siya saka nakondisyon talaga yun, matibay ang pitcher ko eh si Regalado at saka alam kong humihina na yung pitching ng Ateneo kaya pina-bunt ko na kasi napansin ko last game, hindi makuha ng pitcher kapag nag bunt kami," Santiago recounted.
"Kapag naka-hit sila malamang talo kami, sabi ko tirahin natin nang tirahin ng curveball, noong hinabol nila, strikeout. Magaling talaga ang pitcher ko."
Finals MVP Regalado, who pitched all seven innings in UST's 7-3 Game Two win, threw a complete game. The native of Naic, Cavite gave up just five hits and one walk while punching out 11 sluggers.
Trailing 1-2 at the top of the fifth inning, Alwyn Piñero reached home after a blooper to centerfield by Bryan Camarsi to knot the game at 2-all, before Jester Tapia and Camarsi converted two more runs to take the upper hand.
Ateneo cut the deficit after Guzman hammered a three-bagger flyball to center field before taking advantage of a wild pitch to score, 3-4.
The Blue Eaglets were ahead in the first inning after a wild pitch that scored Guzman before Season MVP Matt San Juan uncorked a double to left field to bring Fabella home, 2-0.
Ateneo ace and reigning Best Pitcher Zach Urbina had to be relieved by San Juan at the top of the fourth inning as his nose bled due to the intense heat in the historic venue.
Urbina issued three hits and three walks in just 4 2/3 innings of work while San Juan allowed three runs, five hits, and three walks to close out the contest.
UST saw Regalado, Miggy Reyes, Ceejay Diesta, Steve Dominguez, Junel Cruz, and Kyle Bacarisas make their final run around the diamond.
San Juan, Urbina, Fabella, Guzman, Laygo, Joaquin Casanova, Joaquin Mendoza, Matthew Peña, Emilio Perez, Juan Dela Rosa, and Kean Agcaoili, on the other hand, played their final game for Ateneo High.