February 11, 2012
San Antonio – The pressure cooker didn’t pop for the Rattlers as they raised the temp Saturday to get hot for a 6-4 comeback over the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, sweeping the three-game series.
St. Mary’s (6-1, 6-0 in conference) started the game Saturday with a bang, scoring two runs off a pair of doubles from Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) and Brandon Bates (Jr., Boerne, Texas) in their first at-bats at Wolff Stadium.
The Lions responded with a run off two hits in the fifth inning and gave the Rattlers a scare in sixth when two hits brought three Lions home to give them the lead at 4-2. It was three up, three down in the bottom of sixth for St. Mary’s, inching it closer to its possible second loss of the season. But the Rattlers rallied in the seventh with two hits for four runs to end the ballgame up 6-4.
The doubleheader Friday saw the Rattlers swing for two and six hits over Game One and Game Two, respectively, while Saturday St. Mary’s smashed seven total hits off the Lions. With the game drawing to the final innings with the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith in the lead, every at-bat became crucial for the Rattlers down the stretch if they were to escape a loss.
And in the seventh, it was game on.
“I feel like that as a team when the pressure’s really on, that’s when we play our best,” Billy Richard said. “They put three runs up on us in the top of the seventh, so we turned on and turned the bats on and put four up in the seventh.”
Richard (RS-Jr., Schertz, Texas) was one of the sparks in the seventh, which turned into one cheer after another for Rattler fans. The Lions committed three errors in the seventh, six total for the game, which allowed runners to advance and allowed Richard to reach first on a fielder’s choice. It gave him an RBI, and he would later come around to cross home plate himself. Josh McElory (Sr., Helotes, Texas) and Michael “M.P.” Cokinos (Jr., Houston) both earned RBIs, McElroy with one and Cokinos a pair, off errors from the Lion shortstop. St. Mary’s ability to swing away when it counts is one of the aspects of a story that is already shaping up as a good season.
“(Coach Migl) just tells us to stay in our zone, have good at-bats and try to get in hitter’s counts,” says Richard, who reached third after a bobbled fly in the first. “And that’s going to give us the best chance to get us a good ball to hit.”
The Rattlers have had several good at-bats in their seven-game home stretch at Wolff Stadium, ending 6-1 overall with a clean 6-0 Heartland Conference record. St. Mary’s will now have its talents put to test on the road, facing four away games before returning home later this month. And as the Rattlers have seen so far this season, the batter’s box isn’t the only thing that’s been heating up.
“I think we’re gonna have the same approach, and everyone’s going to try and do the best they can and work in good counts,” Richard said. “Our pitching will hopefully hold up like it has been; it’s been fantastic.”
The mound saw a quality start from Skye Severns (RS-Sr., Claremont, Calif.) with seven strikeouts over six innings. Freshman Matt McClain (San Antonio) relieved for two innings with three strikeouts, collecting his first win of the season. Jonathan Perez (RS-Jr., San Antonio, Texas) went on to pick up his fifth save of year, earning one each day of the three-game series.
The Rattlers’ first away game against cross-town rival Incarnate will take place on Tuesday at the University of Incarnate Word at 2 p.m.