Photo by Drew King
Webb, Rattlers say goodbye to upperclassmen on senior night
San Marcos head coach Bryan Webb huddled his seniors in left field of the Rattlers’ baseball stadium Tuesday night.
The team had fallen short of its goal of winning the state championship. With a 4-1 loss to San Antonio East Central that evening, San Marcos fell to 9-22 overall on the season and 2-12 in district play, missing the playoffs.
But Webb still could not have been prouder of them. And he felt the need to remind his upperclassmen of that in his last appearance as their coach.
“You could’ve quit,” Webb told them. “You could’ve gone the other way. You kept coming to practice, you had character. You’re a quality bunch of kids.”
This group of 12th graders was special to Webb. He’d known about most them since a young age, all of them being just a bit older than his sons, Gunner and Kannon. He got to know who they were, even before they donned a Rattlers jersey.
Which is why this season stung more than usual. It hurt Webb to see his team struggle the way it did this year.
“I think we could’ve won 20,” Webb said. “On the other hand, we could’ve lost, probably, seven or eight more that we won in extra innings or won late. It was just a season of inconsistency and bad luck. And if it wasn’t for bad luck — we didn’t have any luck.”
The trend continued Tuesday night. On the first pitch of the game, senior first baseman Julian DeLeon swung for a foul ball that appeared to be flying over the visitors’ dugout. But a gust of wind pushed the ball back into play, allowing the Hornets’ first baseman to grab the foul out.
San Marcos didn’t give up on its season, though. East Central had a no-hitter two outs into the sixth inning but junior shortstop Isaac Gonzalez broke it up with a single to center field, then advanced to scoring position on a passed ball.
DeLeon hit a fly ball to right field, which the Hornets’ outfielder dropped. DeLeon reached second base and Gonzalez crossed home plate, avoiding the shutout.
“We just left it all on the field,” DeLeon said. “Me, myself, I was gonna go 100 percent, all the way. I wasn’t going to regret anything. I knew that when I left this school, I was going to leave it all on the field and I have no regrets.”
The Rattlers went into the bottom of the seventh inning needing three runs to tie the game. Senior starting pitcher Ruben Miranda led off with another single to left field and was replaced by senior pinch runner Andrew Moreno. Senior left fielder Eric Velasquez was hit by a pitch three at-bats later, moving Moreno to second base.
But the Hornets secured the final out of the contest in the next at-bat, ending the game and San Marcos’ season.
After his speech, Webb shook each senior’s hand and said “I’m proud of you.” The players immediately embraced each other. It wasn’t just their final game with Webb. It was their final game with each other, too.
“Best four years of my life,” senior catcher Colt Ozmen said. “Working out with the guys, seeing them sweat and bleed the same as you, it builds a lot of faith and trust in each other and you get really close to each other, like family.”
Webb is excited to see where his seniors go. He knows they’ll be successful in whatever they do. DeLeon has not decided where he’ll go but is hopeful to play baseball at the collegiate level, majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. Ozmen plans to study aerospace engineering at Texas A&M in the fall and potentially join the Navy sometime down the road.
The team will miss DeLeon, outfielder Matt Harris, Miranda, Moreno, Ozmen, infielder Rich Santellana, Velasquez and infielder Nick Villalobos. The Rattlers will return 15 underclassmen from this season’s squad.
As for next year, Webb’s goal remains the same.
“I’ll sleep well knowing this bunch never quit. On the other hand, I told our young ones, ‘Learn from what happened this year and figure out how to move forward,” Webb said. “(We want to) win a state championship. I mean, that’s our expectations every year. Even the Yankees don’t win it every year. We were right there all year.”