San Antonio – The Rattlers’ baseball team lost five from its starting lineup that took last season all the way to the College World Series, but they have filled in the gaps with an experienced, six-deep signing class.
Five out of the six that are new to the St. Mary’s ballclub are juniors, with shortstop Derek Hamilton (Lake Jackson, Texas), infielder Adrian Garcia (El Paso, Texas), right-handed pitcher Colter Bostick (Powell, Wyoming), right fielder Matt Bienek (Bulverde, Texas) and pitcher/first baseman Nathan Humpal (Corpus Christi, Texas) all joining the squad. One freshman, infielder Garrett Pollok (San Antonio), also joins the group.
The Rattlers will get a Division I flare in Hamilton, who transferred from Rice University after serving as their primary shortstop. Hamilton started all 62 games his freshman season, when the No. 8-seeded Owls won the league title and received an automatic NCAA bid. His work there at shortstop earned him an All-Silver Glove Series Team selection and he was second in conference with 193 defensive assists. Hamilton batted .248 his freshman year with seven doubles and 30 RBIs, and continued to strive his sophomore season with a .943 fielding percentage while going a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen-base attempts.
The ballclub has seen success from El Paso Community College in current Rattler Ivan Sigala (Sr., El Paso, Texas), and it hopes to recruit the same caliber of talent in Garcia. Garcia shined at El Paso Community College, starting nearly every game for two straight years. Sigala and Garcia were teammates his first year, when he batted .303 and led the team in stolen bases with 13. His sophomore year had him at one of highest batting averages on the team at .311, and he led the team in home runs with six. The outfielder totaled 36 RBIs, second-best on the team, to go along with nine doubles and four triples. The lefty had a perfect fielding percentage his final year as a Tejano with 79 putouts, improving from a still-commendable .968 fielding percentage his first year.
St. Mary’s is also receiving a pair from Midland College in Bostick, a right-handed pitcher, and Bienek, a right fielder. Bostick was a two-year starter for the Chaps and his heater made him a junior-college All-Star. He was also named All-Conference his freshman year, throwing a team second-best 2.98 ERA. Bostick led with the best record in the Chaps’ pitching staff with a 6-1 record, which included four complete games and two shutouts in 54.1 innings pitched. His success carried into his sophomore season, holding opponents to a .215 batting average in 46 innings pitched – the most on the team. Bostick tossed 31 strikeouts per season and allowed only six doubles, zero triples and one home run his sophomore year.
Bostick’s former fellow Chap and now fellow Rattler, Bienek, was also at the top of Midland’s stats. Bienek batted .264 his freshman year, leading the team in home runs with five and smacking in 17 RBIs. He had seven stolen bases to match his seven doubles. Covering the field had him at a .941 fielding percentage his sophomore year and hitting six doubles at the plate.
Humpal was recruited for his double-threat stature as a left-handed pitcher and first baseman. On the rubber for Wharton County Junior College, Humpal tossed a 2.86 ERA in 50.1 innings pitched his sophomore season. He threw 20 strikeouts, walking just nine. At first base, the lefty had one of the highest fielding percentages on the team at .980 with 252 putouts, as well as eight RBIs and three doubles at the plate.
Despite being the only underclassman recruited, Pollok (Fr., San Antonio) comes to St. Mary’s primed following a standout career at Floresville High School. The 6-foot-2 infielder excelled on the baseball field, achieving a Second-Team selection for second base his sophomore year and being named Honorable Mention for shortstop his junior year. Pollok also earned Bi-District Finalist status his sophomore and junior years as well as Academic All-District those same years.
Although the Rattlers will have to find a way to recreate another regional championship and No. 1 ranking in the nation, these six new Rattlers have the stats to play the part.