FORT SMITH, Ark. – No one knew back in February just how significant the series would become.
Arkansas-Fort Smith took a best-of-3 series against St. Mary’s two weeks into the season, putting what appeared to be a sizeable dent in the armor of a Rattlers team expected to advance deep into the postseason.
Only St. Mary’s galvanized around the series, going on to win their next 11 games and 21 of their next 24.
Coming full circle, the 7th-ranked Rattlers showed no sign of slowing down in Friday’s rematch against Arkansas-Fort Smith. They blanked the Lions 4-0 in Game 1 and then outmuscled them 13-5 to sweep doubleheader at Crowder Field.
St. Mary’s ace Matt Holland (Sr., Shreveport, La.) went the distance for the complete-game shutout in Game 1. He struck out four and scattered four hits to improve to 8-1 on the season.
St. Mary’s, which moved up to No. 7 in this week’s National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, has won nine straight to improve to 27-6 on the season.
Designated hitter Derek Moczygemba (So., Bulverde, Texas) scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, and outfielder Jason Garcia (Sr., Falfurrias, Texas) made it 2-0 on a third-inning RBI single to center.
The Rattlers tacked on two insurance runs in the fifth, as first baseman Tyler Migl (Jr., San Antonio) and Moczygemba produced back-to-back RBIs.
Moczygemba finished 1 for 3 with an RBI and one run scored, while Migl went 1 for 3 with an RBI. Center fielder Billy Richard (So., Schertz, Texas) score two runs.
In Game 2, St. Mary’s took an 8-0 lead before Arkansas-Fort Smith cut the lead in half in the fourth. But outfielder Josh McElroy’s 3-RBI double to center field helped broke open the game once again in the sixth. McElroy ended up coming around to score on Billy Richard’s sacrifice fly, putting the Rattlers back up 12-4 after six.
McElroy went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the game.
Third baseman Reagan Moczygemba (Sr., Bulverde, Texas) went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored in the game, while outfielder Jason Garcia (Sr., Falfurrias, Texas) and Derek Moczygemba each drove in two runs apiece.
Pitcher Greg Herbst improved to 4-2 on the season by picking up the Game 2 victory. He lasted six innings, striking out four while scattering nine hits.
The Lions dropped to 11-15 with the losses.
St. Mary’s will wrap up the series with a game beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday in Fort Smith, Ark.