They played against the Cebu Dolphins, a team they lost to in the first round. The game was also played in Cebu where Baseball Philippines scheduled the very first out-of-Luzon game in history.
But with the pressure against them, the Sharks flourished as they defeated the Dolphins, 8-6, Sunday after overhauling a three-run deficit in front of a good-sized Cebu crowd at the Aboitiz Sports Field in Mandaue City.
Jon Jon Robles advanced the go-ahead run in the ninth inning before putting up an excellent four-inning relief effort allowing only a run and two hits to take the solo lead in the team standings with an 8-1 record.
“The team just stuck with the game,” said Manila coach Jhoel Palanog. “Walang bumigay.”
The Sharks got back from their 9-7 loss to Cebu last May 1 using their perennial weapons, pitching and defense.
“We established ‘yung magandang depensa at ‘yung good pitching. Alam kong darating din ang opensa namin,” said Palanog.
The Dolphins dropped to 7-2 to hold second spot.
Miggy Corcuera tied the knot in the fourth inning with a home run. The vast outfield of the Aboitiz Sports Field helped as Corcuera ran the bases for an “inside-the-park home run.”
The Dolphins finally grabbed the lead in the fifth inning scoring three runs with Tino Ubungen showing the way with a two-run single off starting pitcher Charlie Labrador.
Palanog replaced Labrador with Robles on the mound but while Manila scored two runs to cut the deficit to one run, Robles allowed one more run on two hits in the seventh inning giving Cebu a 6-4 lead.
But the Sharks offense finally turned around tying the game on the top of the eighth inning. After Edward Landicho reached first on an error and Christian Galedo walking, Marvin Malig blasted a two-run double to left center field to make it a 6-6 game.
Robles got back to his form retiring the next three batters on the bottom of the eighth inning and when it was the Sharks’ turn to bat, Robles took over on offense.
Jarus Inobio singled and quickly put himself in scoring position with a stolen base. That opened up the opportunity for Manila as Robles gave the Sharks the lead in a big way hitting an RBI triple to deep right field. Inobio scored for a 7-6 lead. Robles scored on a hit by Edward Landicho to make it a two-run game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Robles never gave the Dolphins a chance retiring the final three batters to end the game.
Palanog said that the victory over Cebu was a big boost for its bid for the third-straight title.
“This is a big win for us. We are playing against the Dolphins in Cebu. The crowd were cheering for the Dolphins. Pero ‘yung winning attitude namin, lumabas talaga,” said Palanog.
Aside from Baseball Philippines, the Manila Sharks and the Cebu Dolphins, the trip was also made possible by Fastball Sportsventure of Jesse Bernad, Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu City mayor Michael Rama and Mandaue City mayor Jonas Cortes.
By Reuben Terrado