Walkoff Winner for the Rattlers
GRAND CHUTE, WI – The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers almost let one get away on Sunday afternoon at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The Rattlers had a 5-0 lead only to see the South Bend Cubs rally to take a 6-5 lead. Wisconsin fought back to tie the game in the eighth and win the game in the tenth for a 7-6 victory. Timber Rattlers pitcher Antoine Kelly struck out thirteen over 5-2/3 innings and Wisconsin pitchers recorded twenty strikeouts in the game.
Wisconsin (25-14) took the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Micah Bello, in the lineup for the first time since he was hit by a pitch in Quad Cities on May 14, stepped to the plate with runners at second and third with two outs. Bello pounced on the first pitch he saw from Kohl Franklin and doubled to left to drive in two runs. The throw back to the infield was wild and Bello raced home for a 3-0 advantage.
Joe Gray Jr. added to the Wisconsin lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. Gray is the team leader in home runs with six this season.
Kelly was in control through 5-1/3 innings. He picked up his twelfth strikeout of the game to start the top of the sixth. Then, a slow roller to second and a high chopper off the plate with a decision to go to second instead of first base put two runners on base for the Cubs. Kelly bounced back to get his thirteenth strikeout. He just missed on a 3-2 pitch to Jake Washer and instead of his fourteenth strikeout, Kelly issued his first walk and that loaded the bases with two outs and ended his day with 92 pitches under his belt.
Kent Hasler took over for Kelly and Owen Caissie hit the first pitch to the corner in right for a three-run double. Jake Slaughter lined the next pitch to center to score Caissie.
The Cubs (23-16) kept the pressure on in the seventh against reliever Robbie Baker. Grayson Byrd singled to start the inning and Cole Roederer doubled with one out. Baker got the second out with a strikeout. Then, Yohendrick Pinango lined a double to left-center to score both runners and South Bend had a 6-5 lead.
The Timber Rattlers offense went quiet after the home run by Gray in the third inning. The next fifteen Wisconsin hitters were retired.
That streak was snapped when Tyler Black singled to start the eighth inning. Gray singled with one out and Tristan Peters drew a walk to load the bases. Wes Clarke knocked in Black with the tying run with a sacrifice fly to center and the game was tied heading into the ninth.
Neither team scored in the ninth.
James Meeker, who allowed the inherited runner to score in the tenth inning on Thursday, retired the Cubs and left the go-ahead run at third base.
Bello started the bottom of the tenth at second base for Wisconsin and took third when Black singled to right. South Bend elected to walk Zavier Warren intentionally to load the bases for Gray.
Gray never got a chance to swing the bat. The first pitch of his plate appearance was a ball that glanced off the glove of the catcher for a passed ball and Bello raced home to score the winning run without a play.
The victory gave Wisconsin a split in the six-game series and was the seventh walkoff win of the season for the Timber Rattlers.
The Timber Rattlers are off on Monday and return to action on Tuesday with game one of a six-game series with the Western Division leading Cedar Rapids Kernels at Perfect Game Field. Cedar Rapids is 26-13 and has a one-game lead on the Timber Rattlers heading into Tuesday night.
Ryne Moore (0-1, 13.50) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers and he will face Aaron Rozek (4-2, 5.10), the scheduled starter for the Kernels, in game one. Game time is 6:35pm. The radio broadcast on AM1280, WNAM and internet audio starts with the pregame show at 6:15pm. The game is also available on MiLB.tv.