San Antonio – As Reagan Moczygemba stepped to the plate Saturday night, the St. Mary’s senior third baseman never really doubted about what would happen next.
With the Rattlers down to their final out and trailing by three, Moczygemba represented the tying run against Central Missouri in the NCAA Division II South Central Region Baseball Championship.
And considering how the rest of the season had gone for the No. 3 Rattlers, Moczygemba couldn’t help but feel as if a comeback was imminent.
“No doubt crossed our minds at any point in time,” said Moczygemba, a Bulverde, Texas native. “All year long, there was no panic.”
The feeling was the same, but this time the result wasn’t.
The top-seeded Rattlers grounded out to end the game, falling to 5-2 to No. 2 Central Missouri in an elimination game at V.J. Keefe Field.
The Mules’ victory game puts them in Sunday’s championship game against No. 6 Incarnate Word, which will be played at 1 p.m. If necessary, an additional game would follow 30 minutes afterward. Central Missouri needs just one win to win the regional championship, while the Cardinals would have to win both.
St. Mary’s elimination came on the heels of a bounce-back, 9-1 victory over Emporia State that kept its season alive.
Needing a gem from Carl O’Neal in order to save their bullpen, O’Neal delivered, pitching a complete game with five strikeouts to improve to 7-3 on the year. Offensively, the Rattlers (47-10) were hot with Moczygemba going 3 for 4 with four runs scored and an RBI, while centerfielder Billy Richard (So., Schertz, Texas) scored three runs on a two-hit performance.
But against the Mules, who are ranked No. 4 in the country, the offense never got quite as hot.
Moczygemba and right fielder Jason Garcia (Sr., Falfurrias, Texas) each recorded two-hit outings, but the Rattlers were unable to overcome a 5-0 hole midway through the game.
Central Missouri tagged the Rattlers for two runs in the third and three more in the fifth. Tyler Migl (Jr., San Antonio) and Weston Baros (Sr., San Antonio) produced back-to-back RBI hits in the sixth, but the Rattlers were unable to claw any closer.
Reliever Grant Harrelson (Sr., San Antonio) pitched five innings in relief of starter Skye Severns, striking out three and walking none. Harrelson yielded the three runs in the fifth, but they all came unearned.
For St. Mary’s, a memorable season comes to a close. The Rattlers climbed as high as third in the nation, finished the regular season on a 16-game winning streak that extended to 17 in the regional tournament and helped longtime coach Charlie Migl pick up his 900th win.