Rattlers Knocked Out of Playoff Contention
MIDLAND, MI – The Wisconsin Timber Rattler battled a red-hot Great Lakes Loons team all Saturday night at Dow Diamond. However, the Loons broke a 6-6 tie with a two-out, two-run double by Diego Cartaya to beat the Rattlers 8-6 and claim a victory for the ninth time in the last ten games.
Jonny DeLuca put the Loons (37-25) in front with a two-run home run in the second inning.
Wisconsin (34-27) responded in the top of the third. The Rattlers loaded the bases on singles by Ashton McGee and Arbert Cipion and a walk to Tyler Black. Ethan Murray doubled to the corner in left to score all three runners.
James Meeker was the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. The start was his first as a professional after 125 relief appearances. He allowed two runs on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Cipion added to the Wisconsin lead with an RBI single in the top of the fourth.
The Loons went back in front in the bottom of the fifth against reliver Joey Matulovich. Alex De Jesus tied the game with a two-run double. Matulovich got the second out but gave up an RBI double to Jose Ramos and an RBI single to Imanol Vargas and the Loons were up 6-4.
The Timber Rattlers scrapped and clawed to tie the game with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
In the seventh, Black walked with one out and Murray followed with a single and that chased Cole Percival from the game. Loons’ reliever Braydon Fisher got the second out but threw a pair of wild pitches with Wes Clarke at the plate. The second wild pitch scored Black from third base.
In the eighth, Joe Gray walked and stole second. He was still at second with two outs. Jose Acosta surprised the Loons with a bunt. The ball popped into the air and landed past the mound on the third base side. De Jesus raced over and made a barehand pick. His throw to first was late and it also pulled Vargas off the base. Gray, who was running on contact, raced for the plate and beat the throw home to score the tying run.
The game appeared to be heading to the ninth inning with the score tied after Brady Schanuel, in his third inning of work, retired the first two Loons in the eighth and was ahead of Ismael Alcantara with two quick strikes. However, Alcantara, the number nine batter in the Great Lakes order, coaxed a walk and Jorbit Vivas followed with a walk.
Cam Robinson, the Wisconsin closer, was called into the game to face Cartaya, the #1 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system. Robinson missed with the first three pitches before getting a strike. Cartaya smashed the next pitch to center for a two-run double and an 8-6 lead.
Jeff Belge closed out the game for the Loons by striking out the side in the top of the ninth. Great Lakes pitchers combined to strike out fourteen Wisconsin batters in the game.
The loss officially eliminated the Timber Rattlers from playoff contention in the first half. The Cedar Rapids Kernels magic number to clinch the Western Division First Half title was one heading into Saturday’s action. The Kernels defeated the Dayton Dragons 9-5 about thirty minutes after the conclusion of the Wisconsin game at Great Lakes. Dayton, the Eastern Division leaders, now have a 1-1/2 game lead over Great Lakes heading into Sunday’s games.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Rattlers. This is Wisconsin’s first four-game losing streak of the season. The offense has struck out 61 times during this four-game losing streak.
The final game of the series between the Rattlers and the Loons is Sunday afternoon at Dow Diamond. Antoine Kelly (1-2, 3.20) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Ben Casparius (0-0, 8.10) is set to start for the Loons. Game time is 12:05pm CDT. The radio broadcast on AM1280, WNAM and internet audio is set to start with the pregame show at 11:45am. The game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.tv.