SAN ANTONIO — Saturday’s closeout game against the Lions played out all too familiar for the Rattlers.
For the second consecutive game, St. Mary’s (Texas) fell to Arkansas-Fort Smith by one run, with the game-winner being denied thanks to impressive fielding from the Lions’ third baseman.
After the Rattlers came back to cut a five-run deficit to one in the bottom of the ninth, a base hit, stolen base and throwing error brought Adrian Garcia to third for the tying run.
Billy Richard had the connect to tie it with a hard-hit line drive, but the Lions’ third baseman nabbed it, tagging third in the process for an unassisted double play that contained a comeback win as the Rattlers fell 7-6.
In a nearly mirror comparison, the Rattlers’ shot at victory Friday in Game Two against the Lions was also denied by a diving catch from third.
The Rattlers (5-2, 4-2 in conference) outhit the Lions (3-3, 3-3 in conference) 9-7 but a four-run sixth inning from UA Fort Smith brought on by a three-run double that followed the Rattlers walking the bases loaded deemed to be determinate for the loss — despite the Rattlers’ three-run inning in the seventh that ate into a 7-2 deficit.
Matt McClain picked up the loss for a 1-1 record, recording eight strikeouts and scattering four hits throughout his 5.2 innings.
Mario Maldonado and Kyle Bumpas led at the plate with two hits apiece, while Derek Moczygemba and Ivan Sigala both smacked doubles.
Four stolen bases helped the Rattlers tally their seven runs Saturday. Combined with the doubleheader Friday, St. Mary’s stole 13 total bases for the series, stylizing the Rattlers approach this season.
“Last year we had more power and this year we have a lot more speed,” said Maldonado, who is leading the Rattlers in hitting at .455 on the season. “We’re trying to do those [stealing and bunting] little things since we have speed on this team this season. In the fall we did a good job of executing those things and been working in practice day in and day out, but baseball is baseball. It didn’t happen this series for us.”
St. Mary’s will play its first non-conference game of the season against Texas-Kingsville Tuesday at Nelson Wolff Stadium.