The Philippine Star

Phl strikes HK, keeps East Asia Baseball Cup

- – Olmin Leyba

The Philippine­s outlasted host Hong Kong, 7-5, to retain the crown via a sweep of the XII BFA East Asia Baseball Cup Thursday at Sai Tso Wan Receration Ground in Kowloon.

The Filipinos leaned on a four-run explosion in the second inning to seize the upperhand then weathered the late rally of the home side to go back-to-back in the second-tier tournament featuring five countries.

Undefeated in four games, Phl IX clinched a seat in the Asian Baseball Championsh­ip, where top-flight teams Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea and China are seeded.

After a 1-1 standoff after the first, the Pinoy batters asserted themselves in bottom second with Erwin Bosito, Jennald Pareja and Adriane Bernardo taking turns driving runners in and Pareja reaching home on a balk for a four-run tear.

The Filipinos added two more runs in the top eighth with Bosito and Juan Alvaro Macasaet pouncing on a throwing error by the HK catcher and a wild pitch, respective­ly, to extend the lead to 7-1.

Hong Kong turned up the heat in the bottom eighth with Matthew Holiday producing an RBI hit and Li Wing Sing blasting a three-run homer but the Filipinos, with Romeo Jasmin on the mound, held tough the rest of the way to preserve the triumph.

Francis Michael Gesmundo, the UAAP Season 80 co-Athlete of the Year, earned MVP honors to lead the other Pinoys with individual awards.

Jon-jon Robles (Best Pitcher), Mark Steven Manaig (Best Catcher), Macasaet (Best Third Baseman), and Bernardo (Best Shortstop) made it to the All-Star Team while Robles was feted for logging the Best Win-Loss Average, and Bosito for posting the Most Stolen Bases.

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