JULIE Marie Muyco came up with a superb relief performance after an unusually shaky start by Rizza Bernardino, striking out nine batters as Adamson University beat National University, 6-2, on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium to close in on a third straight UAAP softball title.
Muyco took over the mound after Rizza Bernardino gave up an early home run and lasted only one and one-third innings.
The Philippine team pitcher allowed only two hits in the title series opener to lift the Lady Falcons to their 33rd straight victory dating back to 2011.
Game Two is set Friday morning at the Rizal ballpark with Adamson, which holds a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals after sweeping the elimination round, highly favored to clinch the title.
Still, Adamson head coach Ana Santiago has much respect for NU and is not about to lower her guard.
“Malakas ang NU. Humahanga ako sa kanila dahil kahit mga bata sila, lumalaban," said Santiago.
Santiago credited Muyco’s play on the mound which came at a time when the Lady Falcons were struggling with their bats.
“Wala sa kundisyon si Bernardino,” said Santiago. “Nasabay pa na off ang hitting namin. Naka-score kami sa squeeze play. Pero noong nagkatao na sa base, nag-click na, sunud-sunod na.”
Bernardino allowed a home run to Gene Nietes in the first inning to give NU the early lead but Lentija led the Lady Falcons’ assault to come up with a victory.
Lentija scored off a squeeze play by Clarice Palma to tie the game in the second inning, then slammed the go-ahead RBI triple in the fourth before the Lady Falcons scattered three runs in the sixth.
Lentija tripled with one out, forcing NU coach Isaac Bacarisas to walk Luzviminda Embudo for a potential double play. But the Lady Falcons pulled off a surprise on the Lady Bulldogs infield when Palma bunted off starter Rutche Tanola to push home Lentija.
After Benjamin drew a one-out walk, Lentija blasted a shot to left field for the go-ahead run. She also scored on an error at third base.