The UST Golden Sox continue to stumble after suffering another loss, this time against the NU Bulldogs, 10-0, at the UP Diliman Baseball Field on Sunday, March 24. (Photo Jeremy R. Edera by / The Varsitarian)

THE UST Golden Sox succumbed to the NU Bulldogs via mercy rule in the eighth inning, 10-0, jeopardizing their Final Four chances in the UAAP Season 86 baseball tournament at the UP Diliman Baseball Field on Sunday, March 24.

The Golden Sox are now on the brink of elimination, as they slid down to a 4-5 win-loss record, while NU secured the second semifinals spot with a 6-3 slate.

The Golden Sox, who will go on break for 11 days, will need to defeat the top-seeded DLSU Green Batters in their last game on April 4 to clinch a semifinals ticket.

Errors hounded the Golden Sox, allowing the Bulldogs to unleash a five-run rally in the top of the fourth, before Kenneth Maulit  scored a run of his own in the top fifth that gave NU an 9-0 cushion.

NU’s Kent Altarejos delivered the final blow in the top eighth after Harold Tenorio’s sacrifice fly, 10-0.

Mark Cabase tallied UST’s last hit but the next Golden Sox batters failed to convert a run as NU’s pitcher Amiel de Guzman completed the shutout win, striking out UST’s Ceyjey Diesta for the final out. 

“Siguro nadala na sa pressure kaya hindi na nakabangon. Kaya hanggang huli hindi na kami nakapalo, hindi na kami nakakuha ng hit,” Golden Sox John Vargas, one of the team’s veterans, told the Varsitarian. “Ginagawa naman nila ‘yong best nila pero, wala talaga e, nadala na ng pressure.”

Golden Sox Justine Rosales hit a single to right field that pushed Timothy Caldo from first base to scoring position early in the bottom of the first inning. Rosales then stole second base but Caldo was caught stealing home, squandering what would become UST’s last chance to score.

De Guzman limited the Golden Sox to two hits from the second to the eighth inning courtesy of John Vargas and Cabase. UST also committed six errors while NU had none.  

Team captain Steven Dominguez said the Golden Sox would need to restore the confidence that placed them on top in the first round.

“For me kasi, nakikita ko sa team, medyo nawawala na iyong kumpiyansa kapag naglalaro,” Dominguez told the Varsitarian. “Kapag nagkakaroon ng tao sa base, parang hindi na alam kung paano ie-execute nang tama or anong play ang kailangan na gawin para ma-out namin iyong mga runners.”

“Para maresolbahan ‘yon, kailangang mag-build lang sila ng kumpiyansa sa sarili nila, na isipin nila na kakayanin nila yan, na hindi sila madaling kalaban. Sa gano’n, mas maipapakita namin ang totoong skill namin para manalo sa next game,” he added.

Vargas said that the team’s training would become more rigorous as it is now or never for the Golden Sox.

“Kailangan naming magpukpok sa training,” the national team player said. “Hindi namin sasayangin iyong mga araw kasi alam namin na kapos na kami sa oras.”

“Kailangan naming bumawi, kailangan naming ibalik iyong kumpiyansa namin, iyong palo namin. Iyong palo talaga iyong pinakaimportante na factor na nawala sa team.”