Rattlers Win it in the 11th

COMSTOCK PARK, MI – The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers almost let one get away twice against the West Michigan Whitecaps on Wednesday afternoon at LMCU Ballpark.  The Rattlers got another fine pitching performance from Israel Puello and carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth only to see West Michigan tie the game in the ninth and be on the verge of winning the game in both the ninth and tenth innings.  Wisconsin turned the Whitecaps away both times and would score three runs in the top of the eleventh for a 5-2 win.

Bryant Packard started the bottom of the second with a bloop double that was just fair down the line in left.  A fly ball to center moved Packard to third.  Carlos Mendoza stepped to the plate next, and he sent a line drive to Terence Doston in center.  Packard tagged on the catch.  Doston’s throw was on target, but Packard was ruled safe on a close play at the plate to give West Michigan (43-40 overall, 12-5 second half) a 1-0 lead.

Matt Walker kept Wisconsin (48-34, 12-5) off the scoreboard through five innings as he allowed two hits and struck out six.

The Timber Rattlers rallied to tie the game against the Whitecaps bullpen.  Gio Arriera got the first out in the top of the sixth before Terence Doston singled.  Jose Acosta followed with a single and Darrien Miller drew a walk to load the bases.  Joe Gray Jr. drove in Doston with a deep fly to left and the score was 1-1.

Wisconsin took the lead in the top of the seventh.  Wes Clarke hit a double to lead off the top of the seventh.  Zavier Warren singled to right with one out and Clarke beat Packard’s throw to the plate for a 2-1 advantage for the Rattlers.

Puello went back out for the bottom of the seventh and retired the side in order.  Puello allowed one run on one hit with three walks and five strikeouts over seven innings.  In his three starts since joining the Timber Rattlers, Puello has allowed three runs in nineteen innings over three starts.

Robbie Baker worked around a two-out double to work a scoreless bottom of the eighth from the Wisconsin bullpen.

Taylor Floyd took over to start the bottom of the ninth and gave up a single to center to Jake Holton and consecutive infield singles to Austin Murr and Josh Crouch to load the bases with no outs.  Floyd got the first out with a strikeout.  Ben Malgeri tied the game with a sacrifice fly that also moved Murr to third with the winning run.  A walk reloaded the bases before Floyd got the final out on a grounder to short.

In the top of the tenth, Doston dropped a perfect a bunt single to move Antonio Piñero, who started the inning at second, to third base.  Acosta was next and he tried to bunt to score Piñero but sent the ball right back to the mound and was out at first.  Wisconsin had runners at second and third with one out but could not score as the next two batters were retired.

In the bottom of the tenth, the Whitecaps bunted to get Cooper Johnson to third with the potential winning run.  Floyd walked the next batter and that brought Chacon to the plate.  Chacon sent a flyball to medium center.  Doston made a textbook catch and throw to the plate and this time the result was much different from the second inning.  This throw nailed Johnson, who had tagged and tried to score the winning run on the play, for the final out to send the game to the eleventh.

Wisconsin’s offense took over in the top of the eleventh.  Tristan Peters tripled on the first pitch of the inning to score Gray from second.  Peters scored moments later on a wild pitch for a 4-2 lead.  Warren doubled in the final run of the inning and the Rattlers were up by three heading to the bottom of the eleventh.

Floyd got three straight flyouts to close out the inning – and the game – without allowing the runner who started the inning at second to score.

The Rattlers are 4-4 in the first eight games of their twelve-game road trip.

Game three of the series is Thursday night at LMCU Ballpark.  Russell Smith (2-4, 4.73) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers.  Ty Madden (3-4, 2.81) has been named as the starter for West Michigan.  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.