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Kucera Leads St. Mary’s to Split with MSUB

San Antonio – Zach Kucera picked up his first win of the season and Michael Pawelek smacked his second homerun of the season to lead St. Mary’s University to a split of a doubleheader against Montana State University-Billings, 5-2, 0-3, in Heartland Conference baseball action Thursday afternoon at V.J. Keefe Memorial Stadium.

The Rattlers fell behind early in game one, and then rallied for the win. MSUB took its first lead of the series in the first inning. Kyle Pryor walked to lead off, but was thrown out on a sacrifice attempt by Doug Longfellow. A wild pitch sent Longfellow to second and ground out moved him to third with two outs. Rattler starting pitcher Zach Kucera (Jr., Spring) looked to be out of the jam when Willie Crtalic grounded the ball to third. But Ricky Gonzalez’s (Jr., Houston) throw was wide, allowing Longfellow to score. The Yellowjackets increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Jordan Shine tripled and scored on a Josh Wiley sacrifice fly.

That second run seemed to finally get the Rattlers going and they responded, with a little help, in the bottom of the inning. Cody Pyle (Sr., Spring Branch) reached on an error by the centerfielder and advanced to second when the throw by the shortstop Pryor hit Pyle. Michael Pawelek (Sr., San Antonio) then reached on an infield single. After a Jason Anderson (Sr., Lancaster, Calif.) walk, Gonzalez singled to bring home Pyle. One out later Ray Camacho (Sr., Helotes) grounded the ball to second, but Josh Wiley’s throw was bad, allowing both Pawelek and Anderson to score, giving the Rattlers a 3-2 lead.

One inning later the Rattlers got some insurance when Pawelek smacked his second homerun of the season, a two-run shot to make the score 5-2. From there Kucera took over, allowing just one earned run on five hits and one walk, while striking out four. He improved to 1-1 on the season with the win. Taking the loss was Jeremy Knowles (0-2), who allowed two earned runs on eight hits and one walk in a complete game loss.

In game two Ben Lewerke improved to 2-0 on the season, limiting the Rattlers to just one hit and three walks over seven innings. Tommy Vrzal (Sr., San Antonio) was the tough-luck loser, allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks, while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings of work. Pawelek picked up the only hit of the game for the Rattlers with a line drive to right in the third inning.

With the split the Rattlers saw their nine-game win streak end and are now 9-3 overall, 7-1 in Heartland Conference play. MSUB improved to 3-7, 2-6. St. Mary’s will return to action on Monday when they face the University of Texas-San Antonio at 6 p.m. at Wolfe Stadium in San Antonio.

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