VICTORIA, Texas – “Murderers’ Row” was the name given to the fabled New York Yankees’ power-hitting lineup in the 1920s, a vicious-sounding nickname appropriate for a team that did vicious things to the baseball.
Soon, the No. 8-ranked St. Mary’s Rattlers might need a similar nickname if they maintain this level of play following Tuesday’s 9-7 victory over Houston-Victoria.
The heart of the Rattlers’ lineup was feared before the season even started, as the names Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio), M.P. Cokinos (Jr., Houston) and Brandon Bates (Jr., Boerne, Texas) undoubtedly sent shivers down opposing pitchers’ spines. And that was before Billy Richard (Jr., Schertz, Texas), the standout leadoff hitter, emerged as the reigning two-time Heartland Conference Hitter of the Week.
And now comes freshman second baseman Mario Maldonado (Laredo, Texas) joining the fray, delivering a clutch hit that fueled Tuesday’s non-conference victory.
Seeing a 5-0 lead shrink to a 6-6 deadlock, Maldonado delivered a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning that provided all the runs the Rattlers would need with an 8-6 lead.
Of course, he wasn’t the only Rattler to star at the plate on a night reliever Jeremy Narvaez (Sr., Corpus Christi, Texas) picked up his first career victory on the strength of striking out five batters over two innings.
Cokinos homered, Migl drove in three runs, Bates scored a run and Richard recorded two hits in three at-bats as the Rattlers (14-2) scored nine times off 11 hits.
A two-run fourth inning gave St. Mary’s a commanding 5-0 lead, but Houston-Victoria chipped away with a run in the bottom of the frame before tacking on four more in the fifth. The teams exchanged runs in the sixth to enter another deadlock at 6-6, but that’s when Maldonado went to work to put away the game in the seventh.
Emerging star closer Jonathan Perez (Jr., San Antonio) pitched 1.1 scoreless innings to pick up his eighth save of the season.
The Rattlers, who are unbeaten (12-0) in Heartland Conference play, resume league competition Friday at rival St. Edward’s in a pivotal “Battle of the Saints” series.