Posted on 17 June 2011.
By Jonas Terrado
Pitcher Carlos Munoz entered the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium hoping to lead the Alabang Tigers to a victory over the Dumaguete Uni-Bikers on Independence Day.
But the 17-year old right-hander not only led the Tigers to the win, he also achieved one of the baseball’s rarest feats – a no hitter.
On a hot late afternoon heat at the historic ballpark, the lanky 5-foot-11, mestizo-looking Munoz not only pitched a no-hitter, he struck out a record 13 batters to power Alabang to a 1-0 win over Dumaguete, capping off a memorable weekend in Baseball Philippines Series 8.
Munoz was cruising right from the start, fanning seven batters in the first six innings had a stretch of striking out four consecutive batters in the seventh and eighth frames.
In the ninth, Munoz not only shrugged off the pressure of completing a “no-no”, he also prevented the Uni-Bikers from taking the lead with runners on third and second when Pelos Remollo looked at his one-ball, two-strike pitch for the game’s final out.
Alabang coach Jeffrey Santiago and the rest of the players jogged towards Munoz, who became the first-ever player in BP history to throw a no-hitter.
It was probably a moment that Munoz never imagined. A day earlier, he missed Alabang’s 15-9 loss to Dumaguete in Lipa City, Batangas to attend classes as a freshman student at La Salle.
“I never thought that would do something like this,” said Munoz, who got congratulatory messages not only from teammates but also from the opposing team as well.
“I was struggling throwing the curveball but I managed to pitch well with my fastball,” said Munoz.
Munoz pulled off trick by throwing 123 pitches as Santiago opted to keep him in the game.
“I told him to toughen himself up because I knew he’s capable of completing a no-hitter,” said Santiago.
The win snapped the Tigers’ five-game losing skid to forge a tie with Taguig for fourth spot at 2-5.
Munoz, whose gem was witnessed by his parents, including team official Pepe Munoz, won a pitcher’s duel with the battle-tested Ernesto Binarao.
The lefty Binarao was likewise impressive, striking out nine Alabang batters in eight innings. However, he gave up the game’s only run that spelled the difference.
Matt Laurel, who like Munoz missed the Lipa game, hit a one-out, line drive single to third base, allowing Andro Cuyugan to score from second base. He finished with two hits, the other being a triple in the sixth.
Munoz had 11 strikeouts with two outs in the eighth but his nearly lost his no-hit bid twice.
Dumaguete catcher Lloyd Arago drilled a deep fly to right field but rightfielder Andro Cuyugan robbed him of at least a double when he stretched his left glove to make the catch.
In the ninth, Jezreel Rosita appeared to have ended Munoz’s quest when he hit a slow tapper to Munoz, who he and first baseman Bocboc Bernardo tried to field the ball. The latter’s throw to first came in late and Rosita was ruled safe.
But the official scorer ruled to play as a fielding error by Bernardo, keeping his bid intact.
On the next at-bat, Jhonny Altomonte drew a walk, his second in the contest then Amber Plaza grounded out on a bunt, advancing Rosita and Altomonte to third and second, respectively, before fanning Remollo to achieve his record feat.
“Yeah, there was pressure but I got to credit my teammates as well for their defense,” said Munoz.
It was Alabang’s first win in 56 days with the last coming against Batangas, 11-9, in Brgy. Libjo, Batangas City. Ironically, Munoz was named as the winning pitcher after the Tigers rallied from 9-1 down.
The Uni-Bikers fall to last place at 1-5.
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