MANILA, Philippines – Coming off a runner-up finish in the 2018 Hong Kong International Open last month, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles showed no signs of letting up as they plunged into action in the Philippine Baseball League.
Ateneo overpowered University of the Philippines (UP), 15-2, abb. 7th inning, on Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium to open their campaign.
"I'm actually impressed with our starters. They were able to get us some time before our offense started to click," said first-year Ateneo head coach Bocc Bernardo.
During the third inning, graduating center fielder Radito Banzon was able to get the first hit and, later on, the first run of Ateneo.
From there, the rest of the Ateneo offense followed suit.
The Blue Eagles were able to punch in four more runs on three hits during the next two innings to go up 7-0.
Ateneo fired on all cylinders in the sixth inning, punching in eight more runs with Banzon, Gino Tantuico, and Ryon Tionloc connecting on hits. The rally was capped by a triple courtesy of catcher Javi Macasaet to seal the mercy rule victory.
Ateneo's bullpen was equally excellent with Nacho Lozano allowing just four hits in four innings with one strikeout. Rookie Luis Benedicto followed suit in relief duties, giving up just three hits while fanning two batters in two innings. Luis Estacio closed out for Ateneo.
"It is very important for us to establish our bullpen before we enter the UAAP," said Bernardo.
In the first game, former UAAP MVP and current De La Salle University head coach Joseph Orillana continued to school the younger generation, leading the IPPC Nationals to a 19-7 win over skidding Adamson University.
Orillana had three RBIs in the contest. Elite shortstop Aids Bernardo and Joennard Pareja collected multiple hits for the selection squad with the former tallying two RBIs as well.
In a battle between UAAP squads, La Salle went to 2-0 after routing University of Santo Tomas, 13-6.
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