MANILA, Philippines – Veteran squads Philippine Air Force Lawin and Thunderz All-Stars defeated their collegiate foes to set up a title showdown in the 2019 PBL Open Conference on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Air Force picked things up late to stun the Adamson University Soaring Falcons, 4-1, in the first semifinals bracket.
With Air Force down 0-1 heading into the sixth inning, Ferdinand Liguayan took advantage of a fielding error by Adamson first baseman Aaron Mercado for the tying run.
Andro Guyugan followed this up with a base hit to bring home Jon-jon Robles for the go-ahead run. National University (NU) standout Junmar Diarao provided the insurance runs in the seventh inning, connecting on a grounder to second base that led to runs for Chris Galedo and Liguayan.
"Mas mabibilis sila. Bumawi na lang kami sa last inning. Dinala na lang kami ng momentum namin nung seventh inning," said Liguayan, who had two runs in the contest.
Romeo Jasmin pitched all seven innings in the contest, allowing just six hits while fanning four batters.
Thunderz, on the other hand, blasted the NU Bulldogs early to take a 5-2 win in the other bracket of this tournament sanctioned by the Philippine Amateur Baseball Association and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Vladi Eguia did it on both ends for the All-Stars, going 2-of-3 at-bat for two RBIs. On the other end, the leading best pitcher candidate had four strikeouts in four runless innings. The national team pitcher succumbed to cramps early after the fourth inning, however.
To close out the game, Aids Bernardo held off a two-out rally by the Bulldogs that resulted to two runs to complete the finals cast.
During the group stages, Thunderz romped Air Force on opening day, 8-2. After getting a few games in, All-Stars playing coach Aids Bernardo knows that that won't be the case come Sunday.
"Sigurado gusto nilang bumawi sa amin. Sigurado naman na na-'warm up na sila' dahil ang dami nila na nalaro na na games," said Bernardo. "Pitcher's duel bukas at kung sino unang makapalo sila din siguradong mananalo."
On the other hand, Air Force just hopes that they can find their rhythm early to keep pace with Thunderz.
"Yung first game namin sa kanila, hindi lang tumama yung hitting namin. Sana bukas lumabas siya," Liguayan said.
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