Wong Rehabs in Rattlers Win
GRAND CHUTE, WI – Joe Gray Jr went 3-for-4 with two homers, a double, and three RBI while Antoine Kelly pitched seven very strong innings to lead the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to a 5-3 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits Saturday night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Kolten Wong started the bottom of the first inning by reaching on an error. Then, Tyler Black lined a double to right and Wisconsin (38-39 overall, 2-0 second half) had runners at second and third. Quad Cities starting pitcher Noah Cameron committed a balk before he threw the next pitch to let Wong score the first run of the game. Wes Clarke cashed in Black with a single to right for the 2-0 lead.
Juan Carlos Negret hit a two-run home run with two outs in the top of the second inning for the River Bandits (26-42, 0-2) to tie the game.
Gray put the Rattlers back into the lead with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth. Gray’s eighth home run of the season cleared the wall in left and the Rattlers were up 3-2.
Then, he added to the Wisconsin lead with a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. This was Gray’s second two-homer game as a pro. He had previously hit two home runs against the River Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park on August 25, 2021.
Kelly went on an amazing strikeout streak over his final three innings. He retired Parker Bates on a grounder to first for the first out of the fifth. Kelly proceeded to strike out the next seven batters he faced. Negret broke up the streak with a two-out single in the seventh. Then, Kelly struck out Bates to end the seventh.
The strikeout to Bates ended Kelly’s night. He allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. The seven-inning performance was the longest of Kelly’s pro career. Kelly has also taken over the Midwest League lead in strikeouts. He has 93 strikeouts over 71-2/3 innings pitched this season.
Joey Matulovich worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning in relief of Kelly.
The Rattlers added a run in the bottom of the eighth. Tristan Peters doubled with one out. Gray stepped to the plate with two outs and cracked a double to left-center to score Peters for a 5-2 lead.
James Meeker got the call in the top of the ninth inning to close out the game for his fifth save, but it was not easy. Meeker walked two of the first three batters he faced. Morgan McCullough singled through the right side of the infield to score the first run of the inning. Then, Meeker hit Negret to load the bases. Burle Dixon took over as a pinch runner for Negret at first base as the potential go-ahead run.
Bates flew out to shallow left for the second out and none of the runners could try to advance.
Rubendy Jacquez was next, and he sent a sharp grounder up the middle. Shortstop Ethan Murray ranged over to make the play, but the ball took a hop and hit off the chest of Murray. The ball deflected to second baseman Jose Acosta, who was heading to the base to cover for the force play. Instead, Acosta picked up the ball himself and barely beat Dixon to the bag for the final out and Wisconsin’s fourth win in a row.
Wong went 0-for-4 with a run scored in the first game of his rehab assignment. He is also slated to play for Wisconsin again on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday’s Star Wars jerseys are available in an online auction at this link. Half of the jerseys are in an auction that ends on Sunday evening at 6:30pm. The other half of these jerseys are in an auction that ends at 7:00pm on Sunday. Proceeds from the Star Wars jersey auction will go to Make-A-Wish Wisconsin from Timber Rattlers Give Back.
The final game of the series is set for Sunday afternoon. Russell Smith (1-4, 5.49) has been named as the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Eric Skoglund (0-0, 3.86) is set to start for the River Bandits. Game time is 1:10pm.
On Sunday, the first 1,000 fans to attend this game will receive a Corbin Burnes bobblehead courtesy of Unison Credit Union. It is a Brewers Sunday with 107.5, The Fan with current Timber Rattlers players and coaches wearing their Brewers-themed jerseys, too. You can bring along someone to play catch on the field with before the game from noon to 12:30 courtesy of Chick-fil-A. If you stay after the game, Timber Rattlers players are available for autographs courtesy of Tundraland.
If you can’t make it out to the ballpark, the radio broadcast on AM1280, WNAM and internet audio is set to start with the pregame show at 12:50pm. The game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.tv. Sunday’s game will also air on CW 14 in Northeastern Wisconsin starting at 1:00pm.