Something had to give. The Sharyland Rattlers and the Pioneer Diamondbacks baseball teams faced off against each other Tuesday night and barring an act of God, or an extra inning game that would have to be suspended at midnight by UIL rules, one would emerge from this cross-town rivalry with their first district win of the season. The Diamondbacks entered the game with a 0-4 District 31-5A record and the Rattlers came in with an only slightly better 0-3 record.
While a game between two winless teams does not normally rate a write-up in the local sports pages, the fact that as the defending district co-champions and bi-district champions the Rattlers were winless and at risk of digging themselves into a hole they could not climb out of, did add a sense of urgency to the game and made it one of the more intriguing games on Tuesday night’s schedule.
Having come off a last place 1-11 inaugural season, the Diamondbacks came into Tuesday night’s game hoping to play the role of spoilers. And with a run in the top of the first and another in the top of the fourth giving them a 2-0 lead, it was starting to look as if they might get their wish.
However, the Rattlers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when senior first baseman Rodrigo Medina reached base on a one-out walk. Junior left fielder Cesar Zecca advanced him to third on a two-out single, the Rattlers’ first hit of the game. Then, freshman shortstop Eduardo Salinas drove the runner in from third with a single of his own and Zecca scored from third on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, after the Diamondbacks loaded the bases but failed to score in their half of the fifth, the Rattlers took a 3-2 lead when junior center fielder Miguel Cera reached base on an E-5 (error on the third baseman) and later scored on an RBI single by senior catcher Jorge Longoria.
The Rattlers then closed the scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning when Medina reached first on an error, stole second base and was replaced by junior Jeff Adame, who later scored from second on yet another error, as a pinch runner. That made the score 4-2, Rattlers, and no more runs were scored afterward.
Having managed only three hits all game, the Rattlers’ offense was greatly aided by the Diamondbacks’ porous defense. When asked if a lack of offense was the reason for his team’s slow start this season, Rattlers’ head coach Rodolfo Martinez, Jr. replied, “We’ve been leaving a lot of runners on base. Going into this game we’ve scored 66 runs and we’ve left over 100 on base. So the lack of timely hits is a big reason for our struggles. Tonight though our three hits all scored runs so they were timely.”
Another reason for the Rattlers’ uncharacteristic slow start is that they lost so many of last year’s starters to graduation.
“We lost 14 of last year’s seniors,” explained Martinez. “They made us very competitive. We’re still a competitive team this year; we’re just younger.”
“We have three starters with varsity experience, three are freshmen and the rest are from the junior varsity,” added Martinez. “You just have to grin and bear it when you see these young guys making mistakes that young kids make.”
If the Rattlers are going to make it two wins in a row, they will have to do it against the 3-1 Valley View Tigers tonight at Valley View. The Tigers are coming off an 8-0 loss to Veterans Memorial Patriots in which they were no-hit by Patriots’ stand-out lefty Noel Vela.