National University pitcher Aries Oruga never saw action in Game One due to an injury. Still playing hurt for Game Two, he allowed Ateneo batters to reach base for the most part. Only a few scored.
The 20-year-old Oruga saved NU, stranding a total of 14 runners, including eight in the final three innings, as the Bulldogs defeated Ateneo, 5-2, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium to force a rubber match for the UAAP baseball title.
Still hobbled with a right knee injury that kept him out in Game One, Oruga shook off an Ateneo late comeback attempt keeping the Bulldogs’ lead intact even with the power-hitting Blue Eagles threatening with bases loaded situations in the seventh and ninth inning.
“Labanan ng paluan ang championship series na ito. Maraming variation ang pitching ni Oruga kaya napiligan namin ‘yung power ng Ateneo,” said NU coach Isaac Bacarisas.
The best-of-three championship series is now tied at one game apiece after NU was blown away by Ateneo in Game One, 11-4. The winner-take-all match is on Thursday morning at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Oruga surrendered runs via a solo homer by Paco Tantuico to the left field seats in the fourth and an RBI single by Charles Catangui in the fifth after a lead-off fielding error in the outfield off Adriene Bernardo. The Tanauan City-based pitcher never gave up another run again although it wasn’t exactly a cruise.
In the seventh, a double by Bernardo and a fielding error by NU’s third baseman forced Oruga to intentionally walk power-hitter Matt Laurel with two outs. Tantuico, however, didn’t duplicate his home-run hitting effort in the fourth as he popped out.
In the eighth, Kirk Long was in scoring position after stealing second base with one out although an Ateneo run was not produced when Pelos Remollo struck out and Bernardo flied out.
But even with Mark Anthony Elic crossing home plate on a bases loaded walk for a three-run lead, Oruga and the Bulldogs still had to sweat the final three outs of the game.
Kevin Ramos singled and advanced to third base on a Laurel one-out double. Tantuico was intentionally walked again to load the bases in need of a double play. But Oruga did the job by himself to get out of the jam forcing Dio Remollo to pop out in foul territory before stricking out Bocboc Bernardo for the final out.
“Napansin ko na mahina sila sa mga slow ball kaya iniiba ko lang ‘yung mga pitches ko,” said the third-year Oruga.
Aprix Santos keyed in during an early lead by NU with a two-run double after singles by Bryan Lumbres and MJ Gante in the third. Jhon Del Tolosa added a run for a 4-0 Bulldogs lead midway in the fourth.
Earlier, Elic delivered the first run of the game in the second inning on a fielders’ choice from third base when he easily trotted home after Ram Casey Alipio stole second base.