Green Batters claim Season 85 championship, win back-to-back titles for the first time
Written by: Joaquin Valencerina
Date published: April 21, 2023
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Batters claimed the UAAP Season 85 Baseball championship after dispatching the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 8–4, in Game 2 of the Finals. La Salle’s victory means they successfully defend their Season 81 title, emerging as the top team in two straight campaigns for the first time in history.
Vince Flores had the most RBIs throughout the entire season, while captain Joshua Pineda ended his decorated collegiate career by winning the Season 85 Finals MVP title.
Two straight outs in the top of the first inning put the Fighting Maroons’ offense on the back foot early on, putting the advantage in La Salle’s corner. UP quickly bounced back, scoring a single run off a walk to secure a 1–0 lead before switching sides. DLSU answered back during their turn on offense with two RBIs scoring as Julius Diaz and star rookie Lord Aragorn de Vera found home base, granting a 2–1 lead to the Green Batters by the end of the inning. Both teams went run-less in the second before Kennedy Torres attained an inside-the-park home run to level the game at 2–apiece, which remained the score at the end of the first three innings.
A crucial reception error by the Fighting Maroons on JM Segui’s hit to center field left the bases fully loaded for La Salle’s first batter Diaz. Bases fully loaded with two strikes already in hand, #72 sent a rocket ship of a hit to the very edge of the field and brought three runners home, increasing DLSU’s lead to 5–2. A shallow flyball from Iggy Escano which looked like a clear out resulted in another error by UP, loading all three bases once more. de Vera sent one to deep left field in his next at-bat and gave DLSU a five-run lead at 7–2 ahead of the fifth inning.
La Salle backed up their phenomenal offensive showing in the fourth with a stellar defensive possession in the fifth, highlighted by a remarkable throw by Pio Villamiel from right field to third base, giving the Fighting Maroons their third out. Torres hit an infield grounder straight to center field, however an error by de Vera allowed the Fighting Maroons to bring a runner home and reduce their deficit to four. UP scored once more off a Mark Liwanagan RBI in the same inning which brought their tally to 4–7. Villamiel picked up an RBI of his own which allowed de Vera to run home and restore La Salle’s four-run cushion as they entered the dying embers of the game.
Top of the ninth, three outs away from the championship, Pineda stepped up to the mound one last time and had his eyes firmly set on ending UP’s dreams right then and there. With the final pitch of his collegiate career, the captain threw a fastball straight at Torres whose flyball was received by Villamiel for the last out of the game, crowning the Green Batters champions of Season 85.