MABALACAT, Pampanga -- The Philippines had a field day to open both the softball and baseball tournaments of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at The Villages on Monday.
Behind the heroics of the returning Miguel Salud, the Filipino baseball team fended off Thailand, 3-2.
With the Thais threatening to tie the game or take the lead at the top of the ninth inning, the defense came through by delivering a double play to give the offense two outs.
Salud, who was once an ace pitcher of NCAA Division II school Cal Lutheran U, struck out the batter to end the match, drawing adulation from the sizeable crowd.
Thailand drew first blood after John Daniel Daru sent Oliver Dunn home early in the top of the first, 1-0.
Former UAAP Baseball Finals MVP Jerome Yenson scored a 2 RBI-double, which opened the door for Mark Manaig and Ferdinand Liguayan, Jr. in completing the diamond, 2-1.
Liguayan then gave the Filipinos the lead after stealing a base, which was caused by a throwing error by the opposing pitcher.
"Usually, in the first game, the boys have to adjust to the pitchers. We trained them through fastballs, so we didn't anticipate a slow pace," said Philippines manager Orlando Binarao. "I expected this to be a blowout."
Meanwhile, the RP Blu Girls and Boys, the softball delegation, trampled on their opposition to immediately race to the top of the standings.
For their opening assignment, the Blu Boys' scintillating first inning was enough to cruise them to a dominant, abbreviated 11-0 victory over Thailand.
Philippines immediately scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and only needed five to trigger the mercy rule, highlighted by home runs from Apolonio Rosales and Jerome Bacarisas.
The Blu Boys scored four more in the third inning and two more in the fifth to go 1-0.
A prolific performance by pitcher Rey Aliling from the mound also played a key role, as he only allowed one hit, in stark contrast to the host country's 13.
"We are very happy because our training paid off. It will most likely reflect on our upcoming games," said Blu Boys team manager Eufracio dela Cruz.
The Blu Girls had two abbreviated victories at the expense of Singapore, 6-0, and Malaysia, 8-1.
In the second game, Angelie Ursabia uncorked a home run in the bottom of the third inning to give the Philippines a 5-1 lead. The game was ended after the sixth when the Blu Girls added three more runs to the tally.
Although blessed with two wins, manager Randy Dizer was not satisfied with how the team won its first two games.
"We are not happy. Even the team is not happy as far as they are concerned. For us to do that, they have to adjust right away. Adjustment is the key," Dizer told ESPN5.
Barring any untoward weather-related incidents brought by Typhoon Tisoy, action will continue Tuesday at the same venue.