San Antonio – Bigger goals remain, but this was a moment worth celebrating.
With the bases loaded and the game deadlocked in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday, centerfielder Billy Richard (So., Schertz, Texas) scored on a wild pitch to give the No. 8 Rattlers’ baseball team a wild, come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over rival St. Edward’s University at V.J. Keefe Memorial Stadium.
More importantly, the victory handed the Rattlers the Heartland Conference regular-season title and the right to host the Heartland Conference Tournament. The Rattlers (37-8, 23-3 in conference), who went on to beat St. Edward’s 9-3 in the nightcap of a doubleheader Thursday, won the regular-season and tournament titles a year ago.
In the minutes after the Game 1 victory, the Rattlers celebrated as a team down the first-base line, while several others chest-bumped along the third-base line.
Though the Rattlers entered the seventh trailing 4-3, they never panicked.
“They took the lead and I don’t think anyone was flustered,” third baseman Reagan Moczygemba said. “It was like, ‘OK. Let’s go get the win.”
Seeing a 3-1 lead slip to a 4-3 deficit in the top of the frame, the Rattlers calmly proceeded to load the bases in the bottom of the inning. Right fielder Jason Garcia (Sr., Falfurrias, Texas) walked to bring in the tying run, while Richard crossed moments later for the walk-off win.
Garcia and Moczygemba (Sr., Bulverde, Texas) each drove in a pair of runs in Game 1, while shortstop Esteban Raygoza (Jr., San Antonio) scored twice in the game.
In Game 2, the Rattlers’ bats provided a steady dose of hits, tacking on two runs in each the third, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.
Moczygemba went 4 for 5 with one RBI and two runs scored in Game 2, while Garcia, second baseman Weston Baros (Sr., San Antonio) and Raygoza drove in two runs apiece.
Improving to 6-3 on the year, Greg Herbst (Sr., San Antonio) struck out six and scattered two runs (one earned) to pick up the Game 2 victory.
Star closer Sammy Rivas (Sr., San Antonio), who entered the night having not given up a run all season, surrendered his first run of the season in Game 1. He had gone 30 innings over 22 appearances without yielding a run, but ended up picking up the victory to improve to 3-0 on the year.
St. Mary’s will wrap up the series with Game 3 at 1 p.m. Friday at V.J. Keefe Memorial Stadium.