With the help of some clutch hitting and tenacious pitching by Mike Ramos, the Rio Grande City Rattlers remained undefeated in district play with an eight-inning 3-2 victory over the Roma Gladiators on Friday night, March 29 in Rio Grande City.
The Rattlers now own a 6-0 record in District 31-5A play, with Friday night’s dramatic victory coming after the Rattlers had outscored their opponents 52-7 in their five previous district wins. On Tuesday night, March 26, the Rattlers defeated the Gladiators 8-1 in Roma as Osbaldo Perez racked up 12 strikeouts and allowed only four hits in a seven-inning complete game.
Eden Barrera provided the game-winning hit with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth when he hit a high fly ball to deep right field that fell safely as the Gladiator right fielder could not get to the ball after a long run. Eduardo “Eddie” Garza led off the inning with a long drive to deep left field that many thought was a home run, but the ball hit the top of the wall and Garza raced into second with a double.
Sophomore righthander Mike Ramos, who tossed no-hitters in his two previous starts, pitched a complete game for the Rattlers, striking out seven while allowing seven hits and one walk. He pitched his way out of several difficult situations, including the top of the eighth when the Gladiators left a runner on second.
The Rattlers seemed to be headed toward another decisive win when Emmanuel Garza hit a run-scoring double with nobody out in the bottom of the first. But Gladiator pitcher Raul Resendez settled in and largely silenced the Rattler bats for the rest of the game, with the exception of one run in the fifth and the eighth inning rally. Resendez pitched the entire contest until the first two Rattler hitters reached base in the eighth.
The Rattlers scored single runs in the first and fifth innings, while the Gladiators scored one run each in the third and fifth as the two teams went into extra innings after being tied 2-2 after seven stanzas.
In the top of the first, the second Gladiator hitter hit a high bouncer over the third baseman’s head for a single and then stole second. The stolen base, however, was nullified and the batter called out due to the hitter interfering with the catcher. After the base runner had to return to first, he advanced to second base on a wild pitch. The runner on second was then picked off by Rattler pitcher Mike Ramos to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, leadoff hitter Eddie Garza slapped a single to right field. With nobody out, Emmanuel Garza belted a drive to deep left center that hit the wall on one bounce for a run-scoring double that gave the Rattlers a 1-0 lead. Resendez retired the next two Rattler hitters, and the base runner was thrown out attempting to steal third to end the inning.
In the top of the third, the leadoff Roma hitter reached second after an infield throwing error by the Rattlers. The runner advanced to third when the next hitter hit a deep fly ball that was caught by the right fielder. Ramos struck out the next hitter looking on a 1-2 pitch, but the following batter hit a ground ball single to right to tie the game at 1-1. The next hitter grounded out to third to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Elias Gomez and Gabriel Garcia hit one-out singles for the Gladiators to put runners on first and second. Ramos struck out the next hitter on a 2-2 pitch, and the next batter hit a high pop fly that the first baseman caught in foul territory to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Rattlers, who had been held hitless since the first, gained an opportunity with two out when Eden Barrera slammed a line drive to left field that rolled all the way to the wall for a double. The inning ended, however, when Jose “Memo” Chapa grounded out to shortstop.
In the top of the fifth, David Cruz belted a drive to deep center field and raced into third for a standup triple. A wild pitch to the next hitter enabled Cruz to scamper home for a 2-1 Gladiator advantage. A single to center gave Roma the chance to do more damage, but Ramos retired the next two hitters on an infield grounder and fly ball to left.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Mike Ramos lined a single to center and Ismael Salinas slapped a ground ball single to right. Eddie Garza grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on first and third. Emmanuel Garza then hit a high pop fly that the Gladiator second baseman dropped, allowing the runner on third to score but the 2-2 tie continued when the runner on first tried to score and was thrown out at home.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, the third Gladiator hitter singled, but was stranded when the next batter popped out to second. In the bottom of the seventh, Mike Ramos drew a two-out walk and the courtesy runner stole second. The runner then attempted to steal third, but the inning ended with a 2-2 deadlock when the batter was called out for catcher interference.
The second Gladiator hitter in the top of the eighth drew a one-out walk and stole second as the next hitter struck out. Ramos got out of the jam when Gabriel Garcia lined out to right.
In the bottom of the eighth, leadoff hitter Eddie Garza belted a long drive to deep left field that appeared to be a game-winning homer, but the ball hit the top of the wall and Garza scampered into second for a double. The Gladiators decided to intentionally walk Emmanuel Garza, and Osbaldo Perez was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
The Gladiator relief pitcher then struck out Emmanuel Saenz looking on a 3-2 pitch for one out. With the bases still loaded, Eden Barrera hit a high fly to deep right on a 1-2 pitch and the ball fell safely for the game-winning single as the Roma outfielder was unable to reach the ball after a frantic effort, giving the Rattlers a hard-earned 3-2 victory.
Eden Barrera helped ignite the Rattler bats with two hits, including the eighth inning game-winning hit and a fourth inning double. Eddie Garza scored two runs and pounded two hits, including an eighth inning double that came within an eyelash of being a home run. Emmanuel Garza contributed a first inning RBI double. Mike Ramos helped his cause by slamming a single, drawing a walk, and picking a Gladiator runner off second base.
The Rattlers, now 6-0 in district play, will face the Sharyland Rattlers on the road on Tuesday evening, April 2 in another district encounter. They will face Sharyland at home on Friday evening, April 5 before hosting the PSJA Southwest Javelinas on Tuesday evening, April 9.