NU BULLDOGS take home Baseball crown, end UAAP title drought
Art Requiron, InterAKTV · Thursday, March 1, 2012 · 5:31 pm
It’s been 45 years since National University last captured a baseball title. It’s been 26 years since the school won any title in the UAAP.
That long spell of mediocrity in sports for the school ended Thursday in the diamond.
The NU Bulldogs beat the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 5-4, in the winner-take-all Game 3 Thursday for the UAAP baseball crown at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Most Valuable Player and Best Pitcher Aries Oruga pitched a complete game and Alfredo Olivares blasted key run-scoring hits in the third and seventh innings but it was the Bulldogs’ pull away from two crucial Ateneo errors in the ninth that took them to the title against the top-seed Blue Eagles.
MJ Gante singled to lead off the ninth but advanced to third on a throwing error by relief pitcher Adriene Bernardo. The hurler did issued two flyouts and looked poised to get out of the jam but centerfielder Kirk Long dropped a makeable catch from a flyball by Mark Anthony Elic to score Gante.
Oruga completed the shutout starting with a flyout by Gab Bagamasbad and a strikeout on Bocboc Bernardo before Adriane Bernardo flied out on the first pitch to end the game and the long title drought.
The Bulldogs last savored a baseball title in the 1966-67 season where they won the rear end of a back-to-back. NU’s men’s chess squad in 1986 was the last UAAP crown for the school.
For years though, NU’s baseball team has been a perennial Final Four contender in the UAAP. Hopes of winning the crown soared even more with the entry of the SM Group.
NU still had to linger two more years of bridesmaid finishes starting in 2010 before claiming the crown this season.
The Bulldogs overcame an 11-4 defeat in Game 1 and win the next two matches for the title. Earlier, the second-seed NU lost its twice-to-beat advantage against last season’s champion University of Santo Tomas before clinching a finals berth.
“We have the heart of the champion. Kaya namin lumaro ng maganda at tapusin kahit come-from-behind. Ayaw ko pumayag na bridesmaid na naman,” said NU coach Isaac Bacarisas, who returned to the winners’ podium following lean years after leading La Salle to the title in 2003.
“’Yung sa La Salle naman, wala kaming recruitment. Dito, may materyales ako, nakapag-recruit ako kaya kayo ko itong mai-panalo,” he added.
The Bulldogs earned a 3-0 lead in the third inning with Olivares in the forefront of that run-scoring binges. After Gante’s bases loaded sacrifice fly, Olivares followed by clearing the bases with a two-run single.
Olivares broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh smashing a grounder down the left field line pushing home Bryan Lumbres, who earlier walked and reached third base on a throwing error.
Kevin Ramos got the Blue Eagles aboard with an RBI double to left field in the third. In the sixth, Paco Tantuico’s grounder took a strange bounce well above shortstop Alipio’s reach to score Charles Catangui from second and Matt Laurel reached home when NU failed to complete a double play to tie the game.
The game reached deadlock again at four in the seventh when NU outfielders failed to grab a routine flyball to advance Adriene Bernardo home.