The Patriots, with their bats coming alive in the middle innings, took an early lead disrupting several comebacks by Alabang for an 11-8 win for a one-game lead in the race for fourth spot in Baseball Philippines Series at the Parade Grounds.
Jeff Hardillo and Ka Sulhay Argel we’re key in giving Taguig a five-run lead while Justin Payongayong made a key pinch-hit double in the eighth to give his team some breathing room.
At the same time, the Patriots prevented a late Alabang rally to hike their record to 3-5 and a win would guarantee them a spot in the semis for the first time since Series 4, which was held in late-2008.
It was the second win in three games for Patriots, who could have won three in a row had they protected their 2-0 lead against Batangas almost two weeks ago in Manila.
The loss dropped the Tigers to 2-6 but they could force a tie for fourth spot if they win their rematch on Sunday.
“We still have to much better than this, knowing that Alabang will come back with a complete lineup for the next game,” said assistant coach Gerry Fernandez.
Hardillo had three RBIs while twice drew a walk while Argel went 3-for-4 with a triple and a walk to give the Taguig pitchers some run support.
A Hardillo single put the Patriots up 4-2 in the fourth on a single that scored Denver Largo from second.
Argel, a member of the University of Santo Tomas team that won the UAAP championship, hit a triple scoring Christian Paul de Leon from first to make it 9-4 with two outs in the fifth.
Helping the Patriots cause was also the fielding miscues of the Tigers, who made eight in this contest.
Alabang pulled within 9-7 after a three-run seventh. Marco Martinez singled with one-out to score Julius Visaya from third then touch home from third on a passed ball.
Adrian Bernardo hit a one-run single, scoring younger brother Bocboc Bernardo as Alabang continued the pressure on Taguig with two outs.
But with runners in scoring positions, Irvin Tuazon, who relieved Mick Natividad, forced Andro Cuyugan into a groundout to second, ending the threat.
Payongayong then made it 11-7 in the eighth when he smashed his only at-bat, a two-out double to center, bringing home Alfredo Olivarez from third and Mick Natividad from second.
Alabang again tried to make a comeback when Martinez had his second RBI of the day, a single that scored Cuyugan and advancing a hustling pinch runner Leslie Suntay from first.
Arcel Aligno then reached safely at first after a Tuazon error to load the bases but Bocboc Bernardo hit a first-pitch flyout to rightfielder Wilfredo Hidalgo to end the game.
Following a one-day rest, Darwin dela Calzada gave up one run off three hits in three innings before lefty Eric Francisco, Tuazon and Natividad shared pitching duties the rest of the way.
By Jonas Terrado