San Antonio – While the Rattlers have experienced emotional games, none have been quite like these.
In its first extra-inning affair of the season, St. Mary’s (30-7, 22-4) struck a hard loss in a jarring, unexpected 8-7 defeat in favor of the University of Texas-Permian Basin (11-22, 7-16) in Game One of a doubleheader Friday. Game Two kept traces of the edge-of-your-seat tone of Game One with the Rattlers rising to the occasion to claim a 2-1 walk-off victory at the SAISD Spring Sports Complex.
Derek Moczygemba (Jr., Bulverde, Texas) stole third base and subsequently took home on a throwing error from the plate in a wild play that sealed the Rattlers’ Game Two victory. Moments earlier, Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) scored from second base on a groundball hit by Moczygemba that resulted in a throwing error to first from the second baseman wound up in the Falcons’ dugout.
The heartbreak – an unforeseen one – of the day came from the Falcons rocking the Rattlers for seven runs, six coming from the first and third innings with three runs scored in each. St. Mary’s star ace Carl O’Neal (Jr., San Antonio), the three-time Heartland Conference Pitcher of the Week came into Friday’s Game One with only three earned runs for the season but left with 10.
But despite the visibly upset O’Neal having a rough go – for the first time all year – on the mound, he still holds an amazing ERA of 1.46 and remains one of the conference’s top pitchers.
“Carl’s been so great for us all year,” says Derek Moczygemba, who would score the game-winning run in Game Two. “I mean, we got into some trouble and (the Falcons) didn’t really crush the ball but they got some key hits.”
O’Neal didn’t receive the loss, however, as the Rattlers started on a clean slate afer tying the game 7-7 in the sixth after a big four-hit, four-run fifth.
The Rattlers out-hit the Falcons 11-10 in Game One with big bats from freshman Mario Maldonado (Laredo, Texas) going 4 for 5 at the plate for one RBI. Tyler Migl smashed his first triple of the season while M.P. Cokinos (Jr., Houston) picked up two hits – a number that would be the total hits for the Rattlers in Game Two. Tying the game bided extra innings for the first time for the Rattlers, but they were unable to capitalize in the bottom of the ninth to end the game, 8-7.
“They put up a lot of runs and we came back,” says Moczygemba, who had an RBI in the doubleheader. “We had a chance in the ninth inning to finish but we didn’t. (The Falcons) did a good job to keep pushing and they got the best of us.”
Game Two had the same gut-wrenching atmosphere as Game One, as a quick Falcon run in the first inning threatened to be the final score in a shutout with the Rattlers going scoreless until the bottom of the seventh.
“Coach (Charlie Migl) says to always be aggressive,” says Moczygemba, “and I was trying to do that.”
The last at-bat for the Rattlers in the 1-0 ballgame started with a leadoff free base with Migl taking a base on balls. He would then advance himself to second on a steal. Moczygemba stepped up to splice an infield would-be routine out, but picked up two bags due to a Falcon error that advanced Migl home to tie the game. And that’s when Moczygemba turned on the jets.
“Coach (Migl) says to just look for a ball in the dirt,” says the starting leftfielder.
Waiting for the right pitch, Moczygemba charged for third and picked up the stolen base only to rattle the Falcons’ catcher, who made a throwing error that kept Moczygemba rolling straight to home to win the ballgame, 2-1.
A raucous Rattler crowd brought in the victory with the No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s bench that realized beating the No.1 team in the country is on every opponent’s mind.
“Everyone’s going to give us their best game,” says Moczygemba, “and we have to match it. We’ve just got to come out with our best game every game and try to one-up them.”
The Rattlers totaled two hits for Game Two, both from power-hitter Cokinos, who picked up four hits Friday while emerging star Rene Solis (So., San Antonio) pitched his third complete game of the season to improve his record to 8-2.
St. Mary’s will continue the battle with the Falcons in the final game of the series Saturday at 1 p.m. at the SAISD Spring Sports Complex.