San Antonio – Before he was asked to step on the field for his nation-leading 13th save Tuesday, St. Mary’s closer Jonathan Perez had the best view in the house of the No. 1-ranked Rattlers’ come-from-behind win.
Sitting in the dugout, Perez was able to watch his teammates explode at the plate with a six-run sixth inning to turn a three-run deficit into an 8-5 win over Houston-Victoria at Wolff Stadium.
“They definitely rose to the occasion,” said Perez (Jr., San Antonio), who pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn save No. 13, which leads all of NCAA Division II and is one save away from matching the Rattlers’ single-season record of 14, set last season by star Sammy Rivas.
RE-WATCH THE WIN!
Rising to the occasion is nothing new to the Rattlers (29-6), who are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest polls released by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) and Mario Maldonado (Fr., Laredo, Texas) had two RBIs apiece Tuesday in a showing in which the Rattlers flexed their top-ranked muscle to overcome a 5-2 deficit after seeing the Jaguars (11-20) surprise with four runs in the fourth inning and another in the fifth.
But Perez says the Rattlers weren’t – and shouldn’t be – shocked by Houston-Victoria’s effort.
“It puts a bull’s eye on your back,” he said of being ranked No. 1. “But I want the teams we’re playing to play to their best ability. That’s going to help us in regionals.
“We’ve just got to come out and get the job done. It’s the same approach, really. We’ve just got to win.”
That they did on Tuesday.
Esteban Raygoza (Sr., San Antonio) hit a triple to center field to start the big sixth inning, and Migl proceeded with an RBI double that kickstarted the Rattlers’ six-run jaunt.
Moments later, Maldonado singled up the middle to drive in a pair of runs that tied the game at 5-5 – this after the Rattlers had fallen behind 4-2, and later 5-2, following a four-run fourth inning from the Jaguars.
Josh McElroy (Sr., Helotes, Texas) then drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly, and the Rattlers went on to pour it on with two insurance runs from there.
In all, 11 batters stepped into the box as the Rattlers scored six runs on six hits without the help of any Houston-Victoria miscues.
St. Mary’s reliever Jeremy Narvaez (Sr., Corpus Christi, Texas) struck out four over 2.1 innings to pick up the win, improving to 3-0 on the season.