Rattlers Fall in the Tenth

COMSTOCK PARK, MI – The West Michigan Whitecaps defeated the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 8-7 in ten innings on Thursday night at LMCU Ballpark.  The Rattlers missed on some opportunities to blow the game open.  Meanwhile, the Whitecaps took advantage of Wisconsin mistakes in third hard-fought, nail-biter of a game in a row between the teams.

The Whitecaps won game one of the series 1-0 on a two-out, walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth.  The Rattlers took game two 5-2 in eleven innings after withstanding West Michigan rallies in the bottom of the ninth and bottom of the tenth.  Game three on Thursday also went right down to the wire.

A walk, a single, and a wild pitch to open the bottom of the second inning set the Whitecaps (44-40 overall, 13-5 second half) up for the early lead.  Ben Malgeri drove in the first run to score the runner from third and send the runner from second to third.  Corey Joyce followed with another run-scoring sacrifice fly and West Michigan led 2-0.

The Timber Rattlers (48-35, 12-6) bounced back to take the lead in the top of the third.  Wisconsin loaded the bases with one out against West Michigan starting pitcher Ty Madden.  Antonio Piñero and Arbert Cipion singled with Jose Acosta drawing a walk.  Joe Gray Jr and Tristan Peters drew back-to-back walks with two outs to knock in two runs.  Then, Wes Clarke singled home two runs and Wisconsin was up 4-2.

Jake Holton tied the game for the Whitecaps in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Esney Chacon reached on an error with one out.  Holton hit a two-out, two-run home run to center to tie the game 4-4.

Wisconsin loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth inning on walks to Peters and Clarke and a single by Ashton McGee.  Zavier Warren sent Peters across the plate with a sacrifice fly and the Rattlers were up 5-4.

West Michigan rallied in the bottom of the sixth with a little help from the Rattlers.  A walk by reliever Christian Tripp and a dropped flyball by Cipion in center put runners at second and third with one out.  Joyce tripled to the corner in right to drive in both runners.  Carlos Mendoza followed with an RBI single to drive in Joyce and the Whitecaps were up 7-5.

The Rattlers responded in the top of the seventh as they loaded the bases.  Cipion walked, Acosta singled, and Gray was hit by a pitch with one out.  Peters lined a single to left to score two runs and the Rattlers were back to even.

Brady Schanuel, who got the final out of the sixth inning, kept the game tied as he worked 3-1/3 scoreless innings to send the game to extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, Wisconsin loaded the bases.  Peters had an infield single that sent Gray to third base.  Then, Ethan Murray was hit by a pitch from Jack O’Laughlin, the eighth West Michigan pitcher of the night, with one out.  O’Laughlin escaped by getting the next batter to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

The Whitecaps won the game in the bottom of the tenth.  Trei Cruz started the inning at second base.  The next two batters reached on a walk and a hit batsman.  Mendoza was next and he sent a line drive to center that was just out of the reach of Cipion for a walkoff single to send his teammates pouring out of the first base dugout to celebrate their second walkoff win of the series.

It was a rough night all around for Wisconsin.  The defense committed two errors and four of the eight runs scored by West Michigan were unearned.  The pitchers walked nine.  The offense was 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Game four of the series is Friday night at LMCU Ballpark.  Justin Bullock (0-0, 9.00) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers.  Keider Montero (4-4, 5.53) is set to start for the Whitecaps.  Game time is 5:35pm CDT.  The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM and internet audio starting with the pregame show at 5:15pm.  This game is also available to MiLB.tv subscribers.