San Antonio – The bats weren’t the only thing turning heads in the final game against Texas A&M International as the Rattlers swept the series Monday.
Nope, emerging star Billy Richard also brought out the glove with a pair of sensational diving grabs in center field in addition to smacking a solo leadoff shot to spark the Rattlers’ 2-1 win.
“You try to be the best player you can on and off the field,” says the Rattlers’ slugger. “Off the field as in hitting and on the field as in defense, and if you can make grabs in the outfield you can inspire the players around you.”
Richard, the junior from Schertz, Texas, has been leading the Rattlers (19-4, 16-2 in conference) in batting average, currently swinging at .361, and holds the crucial leadoff man position in the lineup.
He lived up to his own motto of being the best player he could be off the field on the plate Monday, smacking a solo home run to start off the bottom of the first inning for the Rattlers. Soaring the yard over the left-field fence Monday was Richard’s third homer of the season, a day after picking up his second homer in a two-run shot in the first game of the series against the Dustdevils (10-11, 7-8 in conference).
Following the leadoff homer from Richard, Josh McElroy (Sr., Boerne, Texas) responded with a single to center and then stole home before scoring on a wild pitch to total out the Rattlers’ runs for the day, 2-1.
St. Mary’s was limited to four hits for the day, Richard with one, McElroy with two and Brandon Bates (Jr., Helotes, Texas) with one, compared to the Dustdevils’ light-up effort of eight hits. The eight hits only amounted to one run however, in part due to sharp fielding on the green.
Manning center field, Richard was the face of two launching dives worthy of Major League notice, grabbing the line drives of two hard-hit Dustdevil bats that kept runners in check and the Dustdevils scoreless until the ninth inning. His partner to left, leftfielder Derek Moczygemba (Jr., Bulverde, Texas) also made rolling saves on the green, showcasing the talent and communication of the St. Mary’s outfielders.
“When the ball’s hit between us, we can normally tell who’s going to be able to get to it,” says Richard, who has committed zero errors so far this season. “And if we can’t, we start yelling at each other, ‘If I’m closer I get, if you’re closer you get!’ Just like that play today. Derek was yelling, ‘Billy, you catch it, you catch it!’ And I ran out and caught it.”
The quick and extra efforts of Richard and Moczygemba helped keep the Rattlers from sliding into a loss as the team had four fielding errors for the day. Also keeping the Dustdevils from a win was pitcher Skye Severns (Sr., Claremont, Calf.), who pinched a shutout for seven innings with six strikeouts to collect his third win of the year. Relief pitcher Matt McClain (Fr., San Antonio) kept the mound warm, allowing one hit, for closer Jonathan Perez (Jr., San Antonio).
Leading the nation in saves, Perez allowed two hits and one run, and was looking at a man in scoring position with two outs. But Perez earned his rank rightfully, forcing a Dustdevil down swinging for the final out of the game for a Rattler win and his 10th save of the season.
Due to weather conditions that postponed the series with the Dustdevils two days, the Rattlers will have a quick turnaround, hitting the road for their next game Tuesday. St. Mary’s will face non-conference Texas A&M-Kingsville in Kingsville, Texas at 3 p.m.