Late Homer Gives Rattlers the Win

GRAND CHUTE, WI – Joe Gray Jr broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night to beat the South Bend Cubs 3-1 at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.  The late blast gave the Rattlers the win in game one of the six-game series between two of the hottest teams in the Midwest League.

South Bend (20-14) had two runners on against Kelly in the top of the first inning as he hit the lead-off batter and walked the next batter.  Kelly got out of the first with no damage as he got the next batter to ground

The Timber Rattlers (23-11) scored in the bottom of the first inning.  Tyler Black walked, took second on a grounder, and went to third on a wild pitch.  Tristan Peters knocked in Black with a sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead.

Kelly cruised through five innings as he retired thirteen batters in a row until Owen Caissie reached on an error in the fifth inning.

The Cubs got to Kelly in the seventh inning.  Jake Slaughter barely beat out a potential double play ball that would have given Kelly two outs with none on base.  Then, Jake Washer dribbled a single through the right side of the infield to put runners on first and second.  Caissie was next and he blooped a single to center to score Slaughter with the tying run.

Kelly tossed 6-1/3 innings, allowed five hits, walked one, and struck out five in the game.

Kent Hasler relieved Kelly and appeared to get the second out of the inning on a high pop to left field, but none of the Rattlers fielders saw the ball and it dropped for a single to load the bases.  Hasler didn’t let the bad break upset him.  He got a strikeout and a force play at third to end the inning with the game still tied.

The score was still 1-1 with one out in the eighth when Zavier Warren singled.  Gray followed with a towering flyball to left that cleared the wall for his fifth home run of the season and the Rattlers were up 3-1. 

Cam Robinson came on to pitch the top of the ninth and he struck out Slaughter, but the ball got away and Slaughter reached first on a wild pitch to bring the tying run to the plate.  Washer was next he sent a slow grounder to short, but this time the Rattlers were able to turn the 6-4-3 double play by barely getting Washer at first.  Robinson struck out Caissie for the final out and his eighth save of the season.

Gray’s home run was his fourth in his last nine games.

Both Wisconsin and South Bend had won ten of their last twelve games heading into the series opener on Sunday.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  Ryne Moore will make his Midwest League debut as the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers.  The Cubs have named Daniel Palencia (0-0, 5.06) as their starting pitcher.  Game time is 12:10pm.

Wednesday is FOX 11 Weather Day.  Members of the FOX 11 Weather Team will be here for a pregame presentation on the science of meteorology for the school kids in attendance. 

The Silver Foxes Special is also available on Wednesday afternoon.  Fans aged 55 and older receive a box seat ticket, a Timber Rattlers seat cushion, a beverage, and a brat or hot dog for $25 courtesy of Aspire Senior Living.  This offer is not available online.  Fans must redeem the Silver Foxes Special in person at the Box Office or over the phone (920) 733-4152.

If you can’t make it out to the stadium, there are several ways to follow the action.  The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM and on internet audio starting with the pregame show at 11:50am.  The game is also available on