San Antonio – As familiar as the No. 1 national ranking has become, so has the regular-season Heartland Conference championship, as the Rattlers clinched the title for the third year straight in a big win over St. Edward’s Sunday.
After splitting the day Saturday, St. Mary’s (38-8, 28-5) closed out the series Sunday as if it was any other in a 10-hit, 7-1 rally over rival St. Edward’s (29-11, 21-8) with two Rattler seniors – a duo that has been accustomed to St. Mary’s success over the years – leading the way on the mound and a newbie breaking in the new feeling.
Senior Skye Severns struck out seven batters in 7 2/3 innings to improve to 6-0 and fellow senior Jeremy Narvaez collected his second save of the year, while newcomer Ivan Sigala had two RBIs to go along with two runs scored in the win.
“Coming from me, I come from a losing school, I haven’t really won anything,” says transfer Sigala, the starting third basemen for the Rattlers who is in his first season with the team. “St. Edward’s is a tough team and clinching conference was pretty fun. We really had to come in and win this one.”
Sigala (Jr., El Paso, Texas) swings away at a .269 rate at the plate and is among the team leaders in RBIs, adding two more Sunday. Sigala gave the Rattlers their first run of the decision-game in the second with a hard-hit single to left field to bring home a run, only to do it again in the fourth with another RBI single to left center. The newcomer to the rivalry that is the Battle of the Saints totaled two hits, two runs and two RBIs Sunday.
Another newbie getting comfortable with the talents of St. Mary’s is freshman sensation Mario Maldonado (Laredo, Texas). Maldonado sliced two hits for a team-leading three RBIs Sunday, including an RBI single in the fourth and an RBI double in the eighth.
As it was a double-digit hit game, several Rattlers had a multi-hit day. Leadoff man Billy Richard (Jr., Schertz, Texas) smacked two hits that included a double, and Derek Moczygemba (Jr., Bulverde, Texas) – newly moved to the No. 2 hole in the lineup – found his footing for two hits and also blasted a double.
Bats aside, St. Mary’s dominated on the bump as well, making the final encounter with St. Edward’s in the regular season that much sweeter. Senior Skye Severns (Claremont, Calif.) had a quality start on the mound with seven strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched. Severns picked up his sixth win on Senior Day and improved his ERA to 3.16.
Another senior shining on his special day and on the mound was infielder-turned-ace Jeremy Narvaez (Corpus Christi, Texas). Narvaez made his time on the field quick and jarring, striking out three of his five batters faced in 1.1 innings that ended the game with a Hilltopper swinging and the Rattlers celebrating their title.
But the last pitch hasn’t been thrown quite yet.
“We’re not done yet with this season,” says Sigala, who has 26 RBIs on the season. “We have to be confident. We have four games left – we have to finish strong to go into conference and regionals.”
Sigala and the Rattlers will play their last conference series this weekend to finalize their position for the Heartland Conference Tournament.
St. Mary’s will battle Texas A&M International University starting Friday in Laredo, Texas at 12 p.m.