San Antonio – Barely 10 minutes into Friday’s Heartland Conference Tournament game, the highly touted St. Mary’s baseball team found itself in rare territory.
They had actually fallen behind.
But then the Rattlers flexed their fourth-ranked muscle, responding as only seemingly they can.
Shaking off a four-run deficit right out of the gate, the Rattlers scored 17 of the game’s next 18 runs to pound Texas A&M International 18-8 in a seven-inning, run-rule shortened affair at V.J. Keefe Field.
“I came in the dugout and was like, ‘There’s no way we’re not going to hit the ball,'” catcher Ryan Morrow recalled saying after a scary first inning in which the Rattlers fell behind 4-0. “I told them there wasn’t any way we were scoring less than 10 runs. Our team was going to hit the ball.”
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Morrow, a senior from Bulverde, Texas, helped the Rattlers (43-8 overall) do just that, positioning St. Mary’s to advance to the winner’s bracket of the tournament, where they will face Texas-Permian Basin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at V.J. Keefe Field. UTPB overcame a late deficit to beat St. Edward’s 10-5.
St. Edward’s and TAMIU will meet up at 12 p.m. in a game that will end the loser’s season.
Morrow went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, blasting one of three home runs hit by the Rattlers on the day. Outfielder Jason Garcia (Sr., Falfurrias, Texas) and centerfielder Billy Richard (Jr., Schertz, Texas) also went yard in a game St. Mary’s pounded out 19 hits.
Recovering from a rough top-half of the first, the Rattlers bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Garcia homered in the second two even the score, and then the Rattlers blew open the game with a nine-run third inning.
The Dustdevils (19-32) answered with a run in the fifth, but the Rattlers immediately countered with four more in the bottom of the frame to open up a 17-5 lead.
Rattlers ace Matt Holland (Sr., Shreveport, La.) earned the victory to improve to 11-1 on the season. Holland, the Heartland Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, struck out five and walked five in six innings.
Six Rattlers drove in multiple runs, led by Heartland Conference Player of the Year Tyler Migl, who drove in five runs on a 3-for-4 day. Migl, a junior first baseman from San Antonio, also scored three runs.
Richard, leftfielder Derek Moczygemba (So., Bulverde, Texas) and Morrow all drove in three runs, while Garcia and second baseman Weston Baros (Sr., San Antonio) drove in two apiece.
“We’re just very confident right now,” Morrow said. “We weren’t mad at all (after falling behind early). We just played with confidence and rallied around that.”