In what Head Coach Bart Bickerton expected to be a rebuilding year for his young team, the Sharyland Rattlers overachieved their way to the class 5A regional semifinal round this past weekend against the #2 ranked Tigers from Corpus Christi Carroll. However, after winning 27 games in a row and compiling a 31-3 record this season, the Rattlers fell short against the Tigers despite stellar pitching performances by Eric Gutierrez on Friday and Tres Barrera on Saturday.
Gutierrez, who gave up only one hit in six innings on Friday, had a no hitter going into the fifth inning against the Tigers when he found himself facing a bases loaded with one out situation as a result of three walks, one of which was intentional. That was when Carroll got what turned out to be their only hit of the game with a single to right-center field that brought in two runs. An errant throw home allowed the third run to score and allowed the base runner, who would later score on a wild pitch, to advance to third.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Sharyland’s Mario Vela broke up Carroll pitcher O’shea Dumes’ no-hitter when he reached base on a single. However, it was too little too late for the Rattlers as they failed to mount a rally and lost game one of the best-of-three series, 4-0.
After the game, Coach Bickerton broke down his team’s first loss in 28 games when he said, “We walked too many guys. In that inning they scored the runs, what was it three walks and one hit batter? Against a good team, they’re going to find a way to do what we couldn’t. We had our chances, but we didn’t get a hit when we needed to.”
As a result of their game one loss on Friday, the Rattlers found themselves in a must-win-two-games situation on Saturday to keep their hopes alive of following in the footsteps of the state champion Sharyland boys’ soccer team.
In a post-game pep talk to his team, Coach Bickerton made it perfectly clear that he had all the confidence in the world in his team’s ability to bounce back on Saturday.
“Winning two games is not that big of a deal. Especially for a team that just won 27 games in a row. So come out tomorrow and make sure that we take care of business in the first one. It’s a one game series tomorrow and maybe we get to play another one.”
Junior Tres Barrera took the mound for the Rattlers in game two. In the top of the first inning he threw a 3-1 pitch to lead-off hitter Courtney Hawkins who proceeded to launch a homerun over the wall in left-center field that gave the Tigers a quick 1-0 lead.
Sharyland managed to get a base runner into scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, when Eric Gutierrez walked and Tres Barrera singled. However, the inning, and the Rattlers’ scoring threat, came to an end when Gutierrez was thrown out at third base on an attempted steal.
The score remained 1-0 Carroll until the bottom of the sixth when Sharyland’s Eddie Garza, who led off with a single, scored from third base on a wild pitch to tie the score at 1-1. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the only run the Rattlers would score.
Carroll scored the eventual winning run in the top of the ninth when starting pitcher Michael Cantu hit a one out double to left-center field and pinch runner Cameron Hargis scored from third on a single by Chris Cano.
Rattlers’ hitters went three up and three down in the bottom of the ninth to bring the game, and Sharyland’s dream season, to an end. Final score: Corpus Christi Carroll 2, Sharyland 1.
After the game, Bickerton praised his starting pitcher and commented on how close a game it was.
“Tres saved his best game for the last game of the year. That is the kind of competitor that he is. It’s a game of inches. We got thrown out at third base on a bang-bang play and they sneak one through the infield to win it.”
The coach also commented on his team’s surprising season.
“We played well and showed a lot of heart. This team overachieved all year. I’m very proud of them.”
The Rattlers had opportunities to pull out a victory and extend their season on Saturday, but it was not to be. With a final record of 31-5 and a current ranking of number four in the state, they may have fallen short of bringing their school its second state championship of the year but they certainly did not fall short of making the 2011-2012 season a memorable one.
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