LAREDO, Texas – The Rattlers’ regular season ended the way it started – with a sweep.
St. Mary’s (41-8, 31-5) finished its stay at Texas A&M International’s field Saturday (23-24, 13-20) with a tight 3-2 victory after picking up two run-deep wins the day before.
The pine continued to reign for the Rattlers as they pelted nine hits, but it was another fiery stance on the mound that threw them their eighth sweep of the season.
Following ace Rene Solis’ (So., San Antonio) 12-strikeout stint in Game Two, Skye Severns (RS-Sr., Claremont, Calif.) took on the same momentum to fan nine Saturday that included five straight strikeouts in the first and second inning.
Severns pitched 7.1 innings for his seventh win on the season and only had one walk in his 28 batters faced. After his quality start, Severns stepped off the mound as the Dustdevils welcomed one of the top closing pitchers in the Heartland Conference, Jonathan Perez (RS-Jr., San Antonio).
With the Rattlers fighting for their final conference win, the Dustdevils were also putting up arms in their fight to earn a spot in the conference tournament, causing a narrow 3-2 Rattler lead in the bottom of the ninth with all the pressure on Perez. But Perez, who led the nation in saves earlier this season, apparently took it with ease as he whipped his heater for two straight strikeouts to earn his 15th save on the year and end the Dustdevils hopes for a Rattler upset, 3-2.
Perez’s 15th save moved him into the No. 1 slot in the modern era of the team’s record books for saves in a season. It also gave him 18 saves in his career, tying former Rattler closer Sammy Rivas for No. 1 in the school’s all-time record books.
But the No. 1-ranked team in the country didn’t get there by just its beast pitching staff. The Rattlers smacked nine hits Saturday, with Josh McElroy (Sr., Helotes, Texas) leading with three followed by Ivan Sigala (Jr., El Paso, Texas) with two.
St. Mary’s leading hitter first connected with a single in the third followed by McElroy’s 17th steal on the season. The only multi-hit sluggers of the game, Sigala and McElroy, charged in the three-run seventh inning with both picking up RBI singles. The Rattlers’ only scoring inning also included an RBI single from leadoff man Billy Richard (Jr., Schertz, Texas). The nine-hit day also included doubles from Esteban Raygoza (Sr., San Antonio) and Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio).
Conference play may have ended for the Rattlers Saturday, but they still have a chuck of the season ahead of them, including the ever-hopeful trip to the National Tournament.
Already securing their first-place rank in conference, the Rattlers will defend their conference crown in two weeks and will likely compete in the regional tournament with the help of their No. 1-ranked status.
The Rattlers will play their last game of the season against cross-town rival Incarnate Word, possibly getting a preview of regionals as the Cardinals also have a shot at competing in the tournament.
St. Mary’s hopes to end the rivalry on top of the Cardinals for the regular season Tuesday at the University of the Incarnate Word at 3 p.m.