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The San Marcos Rattler baseball team began the 2022 season by hosting their own tournament. San Marcos split two games to start the tournament against Victoria East. Daily Record photos by Gerald Castillo

FIRST PITCH: San Marcos hosts tournament to begin 2022 season

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Experience is wisdom.

San Marcos (1-1) baseball took to Rattler field for its season-opening game as it hosted its own tournament from Thursday to Saturday with teams all over the state of Texas including Victoria East (2-1), Kerrville Tivy, and San Antonio Warren. Due to weather conditions, Warren was forced to move its scheduled game to a 5 p.m. start, forcing the Rattlers to play Victoria East in back-to-back games on Thursday evening. 

The Rattlers and the Titans split their two-game series with Victoria taking the first by a score of 14-9. The second game relayed a much lower scoring matchup as San Marcos hung on to a 5-4 victory after surrendering four runs in the top of the seventh inning.

Head coach Bryan Webb spoke on what he expected to get out of playing the Titans twice in a row in a span of five hours.

“Victoria East has got a good program,” Webb said. “They’re a perennial playoff team. We’ve played them for the last eight years and every ball game has been tight. We know each other pretty well. They are well-coached and it’s going to help us down the road because we got to learn how to stay loose in the dugout, how our bullpens got to function, how our dugouts got to function and also they look a lot like the teams in our district.”

In the initial meeting, Victoria East came out on fire from behind the plate, scoring three or more runs in three of the first four meetings. Most of the runs were self-inflicted by San Marcos as errors started to rack up against its defense. A dropped fly ball in right field allowed multiple Titans to cross home plate, pushing the score to 5-0 at the top of the second and another four runs in the next inning gave the Victoria East a 9-0 lead. San Marcos — playing to avoid the run-rule — had to score in order to stall the momentum and it made it happen. A walk brought in sophomore shortstop Kutter Gage Webb for the first run of the day. Following that sophomore pitcher, Ripp Soto hit a hard shot towards first which bobbled off of the first baseman’s hands allowed another run to score and a passed ball brought in sophomore pitcher Reagan Chomel, leaving the score 9-3.

Even though San Marcos’ bats got hot, Victoria East’ was already warmed up from the innings of the past and it continued into the fifth inning as it scored three more to extend its lead to 12-3. The Rattlers responded by scoring six runs in the last three innings while holding the Titans to two runs as they lost the opening game of the tournament 14-9 in six innings due to time constraints on the tournament. Webb talked with his team in between meetings and thought if his team played the right way they would’ve won.

“I told them that’s not Rattler baseball, and that’s not how we play the game,’’ Webb said. “That first ball game, they were down big and they battled back and had every chance to win that thing and just couldn’t finish the deal and that’s baseball. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and everything could go right for them did go right and that’s the game of baseball.

San Marcos returned to the field and Webb’s sentiments came true. Led by dominant pitching by junior right-handed pitcher Gavin Gomez, who threw 11 strikeouts in the 5-4 win. In the second meeting, the hosts got out to a 4-0 lead heading to the top of the seventh. Victoria East returned to its dominant outing from the first game by keep scoring four runs at the top of the inning to keep its hopes alive. With runners on first and third, junior pitcher Major Pellien ripped a shot to the outfield as the Rattlers won in walkoff fashion. Pellien had been struggling before that but that boosted his confidence for the rest of the season to come.

“I know I’m a good hitter,” Pellien said. “It’s been a rough season for me. I saw they intentionally walked Reagan (Chomel) and I was like alright, just get something up and get something out and get some he threw it right in the grill.”

The Rattlers continued their winning ways from game two against Victoria East, facing off against Kerrville Tivy on Friday and run-ruling the Antlers 10-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

San Marcos got off to a hot start on the mound and in the batter’s box. On top of Junior pitcher Tito Santos’ almost 5 innings of near-perfect pitching, the purple and white were explosive offensively. The Rattlers started off the first inning scoring three runs, before coming alive again in the fourth and piling on five more runs.

“That’s what we should look like when you have your number one (Santos) on the mound, or your number two (or) number three, like Gavin last night or whoever they are, whatever they’re ranked, that’s how we expect to play. That’s how we expect to hit and that’s what Rattler baseball should look like,” Webb said. “What I thought we did really well was hit with two strikes, drive the ball up the middle, have good approaches at the plate, limited the strikeouts and we hit with runners on base.”

San Marcos finished off the Antlers in its next at bat, scoring two runs to end the game in the fifth. A far cry from last year’s comeback victory against Tivy, the youthful Rattler roster showed growth from their offseason work.

Santos is still in the process of fully recovering from an offseason surgery, but Webb believes Santos gives his team’s defense an edge when he’s on the mound, which helped continue the shutout throughout the five innings that were played.

“(Tito’s) gonna bring experience, he’s been here since he was a freshman,” Webb said. “He’s pitched against the best in the state of Texas, you know, I’ve thrown him in the fire since he was 14 years old. He’s about 80% right now, and he looked pretty good today. So we can’t wait to get him all the way back. We only got him back about a week before Christmas, so he’s getting healthy and he’s getting back to where he was. And you can see how good our defense plays when he’s on the mound.”

Despite the dominant performance, the purple and white are still just three games into their regular season, and have their eyes on continuing to better themselves regardless of the outcomes on the field before district. 

“(There’s some) things we need to work out, we missed some signs, (it’s) the little details (that are key),” Webb said. “(But) I told them today to go in there and make new mistakes. And when you make new mistakes, you know, we can coach you on it. It’s not the old ones, like we made all the old mistakes yesterday. But today we made new mistakes, so it was a big deal, it was a new day and we came out and played pretty good baseball.”

The Rattler roster is also able to recognize where they can get better in stellar performances, a sign of maturity in the young team that also shows that Webb and his coaching staff’s message is resonating with the purple and white.

“(I need to get better at) my approach at the plate, I’m still not there yet,” Junior Gavin Gomez said. “Especially going into next weekend, it’ll be tough, (a lot of) tough competition.” 

“I need to work on a few of my off-speed pitches, and (have) a little bit more of location but I’m liking where it’s going,” Santos added.

The Rattlers will finish their home tournament with a double-header on Saturday against the two teams they’ve faced throughout the weekend, matching up against Victoria East at 1 p.m. and Kerrville Tivy at 4 p.m.

San Marcos Record

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