Friday, January 18, 2019
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20180402 Baseball VVHS vs SHS LG-24On a night in which the NCAA men’s basketball champions were crowned at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio and the Houston Astros raised their World Series championship banner at Minute Maid Park in Houston, a varsity high school baseball game was played at Sharyland High School in Mission between the Valley View Tigers and the Sharyland Rattlers.

While this high school baseball game did not receive the national attention that either Villanova or the Astros received, there was still plenty at stake when the then 7-2 Tigers and the then 7-1 Rattlers faced off Monday night; primarily sole possession of the District 31-5A lead.

Despite the fact that Sharyland came into this game having won seven games in a row and with a half-game lead over Valley View, it just wasn’t the Rattlers’ night as Coach Bart Bickerton’s young, but talented, squad fell to the Tigers, in a 10-run “mercy” rule shortened game, by a score of 11-1.

While the Rattlers did take an early 1-0 lead in the first inning with a walk to center fielder Pepe Contreras, a fielder’s choice and a single by first baseman Martin Vasquez, the Tigers took the lead to stay in the top of the third when they scored three runs on a hit batsman sandwiched in-between two homeruns. Valley View then added eight runs in the top of the fifth with two singles, two doubles, a walk and two more homeruns.

The Rattlers’ failure to score in the bottom of the fifth inning allowed the Tigers’ 10 run lead to hold and the mercy rule to take effect, bringing what was expected to be a close, hard-fought game to a surprisingly quick end.

Immediately after the game, Bickerton was quick to acknowledge how talented a team Valley View is when he said, “They’ve got a lot of power and they hit the ball well against us, just as they did last time. With the wind blowing out the way it was, I knew that we couldn’t get the ball up and that’s all we did. Our pitchers have done a great job all year but they just had a really bad game.”

Bickerton then went on to add, “Valley View beat us in every aspect of the game tonight; defensively, at the plate and on the mound. Simply put, we got dominated.”

A ten-run, five inning loss is not the way Bickerton planned on the rematch with Valley View going. However, it has been his experience that a lopsided loss can be easier to bounce back from than a close one.

“It’s easier to get over a loss like this where you get completely dominated than it is a heartbreaker where you lose by one run,” Bickerton said. “Last time we played them we were ahead going into the seventh inning and they came back to beat us. That was a little tougher than tonight’s loss where we just got pounded.”

While Monday night’s loss is definitely a set-back to the Rattlers’ district championship aspirations, the fact that with seven games remaining on the district schedule they’ve already matched their win total for the entire 2017 season is proof of how far Bickerton’s team has come in a relatively short period of time. And what accounts for this dramatic turnaround?

“We’ve played unbelievable defense in the outfield and in the infield, even though we didn’t do that tonight” Bickerton shared. ”Also, even though we don’t have anybody with any special stuff on the mound, we’ve just pitched our butts off. Our pitchers have thrown strikes, they’ve kept the ball down and they’ve kept us in games.”

With only one senior on the roster, the Rattlers are a young team. The fact that they responded to their first round loss to Valley View by winning their next seven games in a row however is an indicator of the fact that despite their youth, the Rattlers have the ability to shake off a setback and respond in a positive way. Will they be able to repeat their first round performance in the second round? Only time will tell.

However, should they succeed in doing so, they will not only assure themselves of making a return trip to the state playoffs, after a two-year absence, but they will almost certainly find themselves in the thick of the district championship race despite having come up short against Valley View twice this season.