UNIVERSITY of the Philippines emerged victorious in a tension-filled battle over erstwhile co-leader Ateneo de Manila University, 6-3, to remain undefeated in three, Sunday at the UP Baseball Field.
The contest took a bad turn at the top of the ninth inning after UP's Nano Asuncion collided with Ateneo catcher Casanova on the former's run to home. Casanova bore the weight of the collision to his face and had to be stretchered off with neck support.
Asuncion was ejected at the resumption of the game.
Kennedy Torres was solid on offense for the Fighting Maroons, getting in three hits on four at-bats including that triple to deep left-center that scored Mark Liwanagan in that fourth inning to push the lead to two, 4-2.
From there, UP did it on defense, limiting Ateneo to one run in the seventh inning.
Rookie pitcher Allen Dela Cruz made his UAAP debut on the mound, dealing with 6 2/3 innings and finishing with six hits allowed and five strikeouts. Allen Mercado then took it from there, limiting Ateneo to one run and dismissing two batters.
"With the support from Dean Kiko (Diaz) and the coaching staff I have, talagang mataas ang expectations of this season. Kaya lang sinasabi ko sa mga bata, we have a goal. For us to achieve the goal, we have to stay grounded. Dapat hindi dalhin yung mga panalo, malayo pa 'to," UP coach Anthony Dizer commented on the team's best start in recent years at 3-0.
Ateneo, who dropped to a share of second with De La Salle University at 2-1, made it a game in the seventh inning after a throwing error from UP centerfielder Ian Mercado with Jose Mari Limpo at the plate sent Joaquin Mendoza home, cutting the deficit to two, 3-5.
Torres then carved his second triple of the day before scoring home off a passed ball with Asuncion batting for the final count.
The Fighting Maroons' defense spoiled Ateneo's solid outing at the plate, which got a total of 10 hits in the nine-inning tussle, most of which came from Montemayor who ended with three-of-five.
Joshua De Juras started for Ateneo and pitched for 8.1 innings, limiting UP to just six hits, before Emilio Perez took over the mound.