San Antonio – The Rattlers experienced a blowout and a scare in their duo of victories over Texas A&M International on Sunday.
Game One was a show of bats for the Rattlers (18-4, 15-2 in conference) as they shut down the Dustdevils, 9-1.
St. Mary’s smacked seven hits to the Dustdevils’ four with the usual sluggers behind them. The Dustdevils (10-10, 7-7 in conference) were there for M.P. Cokinos’ (Jr., Houston) fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot in the third that started the bats flying. Esteban Raygoza (Sr., San Antonio) stepped up next for his eighth double of the season that brought home Brandon Bates (Jr., Helotes, Texas) to end the three-run inning, 4-0.
They kept the momentum going in the fourth and following Cokinos’ lead, Billy Richard (Jr., Schertz, Texas) pelted a two-run blast over the left-field fence. Four straight walks brought in another Rattler run followed by a sacrifice fly from Raygoza to add another. Ivan Sigala snapped a single that gave the Rattlers their final run of the day – a job he would become used to filling, driving in the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Two.
After setting fire to the plate in Game One and nearly hitting into double-digit runs, going scoreless until the bottom of the ninth gave Rattler fans and the Rattler bench alike an uncommon, uneasy feeling in Game Two.
In contrast to the first game where Texas A&M International scored its only run in the final inning, Game Two saw a Dustdevil score in the first at-bat and gain a lead that would hold strong until the last possible moments.
“We were hitting the ball hard to their players,” says Sigala, who had a hit in each game Sunday, “and we weren’t getting what we wanted.”
Sigala speaks of the Rattlers’ hitting power that seemed to lose the force it had Game One, leaving them hitless until a double from Derek Moczygemba (Jr., Bulverde, Texas) in the third. The Rattlers also left four men on base off of four hits through the first eight innings.
“But that’s the game of baseball,” Sigala said, “so we gotta come through when we have to.”
Now faced with their last at-bat and the final, and only chance to pull out a victory or bring on extra innings, the Rattlers headed into the ninth still trailing by one.
The leadoff strikeout of Josh McElroy (Sr., Helotes, Texas) painted a grim picture for the Rattlers until Tyler Migl (Sr., San Antonio) stepped up to the plate to pelt a double deep down the left-field line for his first hit of the day, coming when the Rattlers needed it most.
The stab of Cokinos’ grounder for the second out of the final inning didn’t last long as Bates smacked his fourth hit of the day – a single that brought Migl around the bases and home to the game, 1-1. Raygoza kept it alive for a single to left field that left Sigala with two men on and two men out when he stepped to the plate. The Dustdevils’ closing pitcher seemed have also felt the pressure of this potential last at-bat as a wild pitch sent Bates to third and Raygoza to second, priming Sigala further for a big win or a big upset.
“I just felt like I had to put the ball in play,” Sigala said. “I had been struggling at the plate the last few at-bats but it was a big time to come through and get a win for the team, so I just had to put it in play to get the win.”
And that’s exactly what Sigala did.
With two strikes on his count, Sigala sliced a hit to second hard enough to bring Bates around the bend and for himself to cleanly stomp the bag at first for the Rattlers’ final, and winning, run of the day. A swarm around Sigala from the Rattler bench signaled their second win of the day.
The Rattlers will finish the series against the Dustdevils on Monday at 12 p.m. at Wolff Stadium.