San Antonio – The Rattlers’ winning charm couldn’t extend to four straight as they faced their first defeat of the season Tuesday in a 6-5 loss to the undefeated Angelo State Rams.
But not all was lost as new lineups were put to the test for St. Mary’s on a night Angelo State broke open a tie ballgame in the top of the ninth inning at Wolff Stadium.
Stepping onto the mound for the first time for St. Mary’s (3-1, 3-0 in conference) was second-year Rattler Derek Moczygemba (Jr., Bulverde, Texas). Capable of pitching in his first year as a Rattler last season, Moczygemba never saw the diamond due to a talented and stacked pitching staff.
Instead, the 6-foot-3 junior played outfield with one of the highest fielding percentages for the team as well as maintaining a high batting average. But Angelo State (5-0) might not have guessed it was Moczygemba’s premiere as a pitcher Tuesday.
Moczygemba pitched a shutout over six innings with zero earned runs for a quality start of four strikeouts in 24 batters faced. The left-handed pitcher was clutch in the second inning, striking out three straight Rams with two men in scoring position.
“It felt good to get back up on the mound,” says Moczygemba. “I missed it, but last year we had good pitchers and they didn’t really need me. So wherever they need me I’ll go. Whatever they want me to do I’ll do for them. I just want to be on the field playing baseball, wherever I’m at I’m happy.”
It was a stalemate match between St. Mary’s and the non-conference Angelo State until the third inning, when Michael “M.P.” Cokinos (Jr., Houston) hammered a three-run homer over the yard for his third homerun of the season, bringing the Rattlers’ in the lead, 3-0. It left a growing feeling of confidence for a win, but the battle of the undefeated opponents was far from over.
In addition to Moczygemba in a new zone Tuesday, newcomer Scott Slusher (Jr., Grapevine, Texas) took over behind the plate, moving Cokinos to first and Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) to left field. With Angelo State a non-conference opponent and nothing technically at stake, Tuesday seemed a fitting to try a new Rattler lineup.
The bottom of the sixth saw two more Rattler runs with Slusher scoring on a wild pitch and Josh McElroy (Sr., Helotes, Texas) singling for an RBI. But the Rams answered back in their next at-bat with three runs off five hits, making it a tie ballgame, 5-5.
The Rams went into the last inning ready to score, earning an RBI off two hits. Pinching the Rattlers in the bottom of the ninth three up, three down, the Rams continued their own undefeated streak with a 6-5 win.
“It was a tough game; Angelo’s a good team,” Moczygemba says. “But we made some mistakes we need to fix and just get ready to play Friday and get out there and prove ourselves.”
St. Mary’s will have a quick turnaround for its next game, playing a double-header this Friday at Wolff Stadium against the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. Game One is set for 1 p. m.