San Antonio – Eager to get back on the mound, then-infielder Greg Herbst approached St. Mary’s pitching coach Chris Ermis with a simple message while taking a long bus ride home from a season-ending defeat in last year’s regional tournament.
“I want to pitch,” Herbst said last spring.
Back then, the Rattlers could only dream of what kind of results that conversation might ultimately produce. On Saturday, they were painted a more concrete picture.
Carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Herbst pitched a three-hitter to spark a 5-2 victory over Texas-Permian Basin on the second day of the Heartland Conference Baseball Tournament at V.J. Keefe Field.
The victory guaranteed St. Mary’s (44-8), winners of 15 straight, a spot in Sunday’s championship game. The Rattlers will play St. Edward’s at 1 p.m. at V.J. Keefe Field, with an additional game to follow 45 minutes afterward, if necessary.
Herbst, a senior from San Antonio, went 7 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking three while yielding one earned run to improve to 8-3 on the season.
“Man, Greg started off strong,” coach Charlie Migl said of Herbst, a first-team All-Heartland Conference selection. “That second-day game like that, that’s a big game when you’re in the winner’s bracket. For him to come on like that, it was just outstanding.”
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Migl has known about Herbst’s pitching prowess since his days at O’Connor High School, where Migl’s son and current Rattler, Tyler Migl, also played. Herbst never pitched at Kansas University, where he attended before transferring to St. Mary’s prior to his junior year.
“”When Chris told me that he asked to pitch, I said, ‘Hey, I know he can be a great pitcher,'” Migl said. “I’ve seen it.
“Greg has worked hard. This is where he got himself.”
Herbst’s emergence has solidified what has quickly become one of the best pitching staffs in all of NCAA Division II baseball, a point that was hammered home Saturday.
While the Falcons exhausted six arms, Herbst’s dominance ensured the Rattlers only went through two.
Equally as impressive for the Rattlers has been the emergence of their suddenly red-hot bats. St. Mary’s tallied 14 hits Saturday, this a day after crushing 19 hits against Texas A&M International on the opening day.
Leading the way was star catcher Ryan Morrow (Sr., Bulverde, Texas), who went 4 for 5 with one RBI and a run scored. Five Rattlers combined to drive in the team’s five runs, with third baseman Reagan Moczygemba (Sr., Bulverde, Texas), first baseman Tyler Migl (Jr., San Antonio), shortstop Esteban Raygoza (Jr., San Antonio) and right fielder Josh McElroy (Jr., Helotes, Texas) also driving in one run apiece. Five Rattlers also tallied multi-hit performances.
Morrow’s day only served to highlight his recent resurgence after admitting to slumping earlier in the year.
“He had such a great year last year and struggled some early,” coach Charlie Migl said. “I told him, ‘Ryan, you can’t worry about that anymore. It’s over.
“But, boy, you could have a nice ending. He’s done that.”
As have all the Rattlers – something they certainly hope carries over into tomorrow’s title game.