CLINTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ended their seven game losing streak with a 5-4 eleven inning win over the Clinton LumberKings Thursday night at Ashford University Field. Michael Reed drove in the go ahead run in the top of the eleventh inning, but there were enough twists and turns in the final two innings to make a writer of fiction blush.
Clinton (38-38 overall, 5-2 second half) took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. Jabari Henry reached on an error to start the frame. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a ground out. Janelfry Zorilla bounced a single through the center of the diamond to drive in Henry with the first run of the game.
Wisconsin (30-42, 1-6) tied the game in the top of the third. Alfredo Rodriguez and Tyler Roberts drew walks to lead off the inning. A one out fly ball to right by Michael Reed got Rodriguez to third. Orlando Arcia knocked in Rodriguez with a single to left-center to make it 1-1.
The starting pitchers didn't allow anything else. Rattlers starter Tyler Wagner pitched around two walks and six hits over six innings. He only allowed that unearned run in the first. Scott DeCecco allowed just two hits in six innings and struck out four while walking two.
Jordy Lara broke the 1-1 tie with a home run on the first pitch thrown by Rattlers reliever Martin Viramontes in the bottom of the seventh inning. Lara has six home runs this season and three have come against the Timber Rattlers.
Michael Reed singled with two outs in the top of the eighth and moved to second on a passed ball. Arcia hit a hard shot on a 3-1 pitch, but it was right at the third baseman who made a clean pick and an accurate throw to first base for the final out of the inning.
Clinton had a chance to add on to their lead against Viramontes in the bottom of the eighth. Dario Pizzano started the inning with a triple, but Viramontes worked around that with two strikeouts and a fly ball to right.
The Rattlers tied the game on the first batter of the top of the ninth, but not without controversy. Tyrone Taylor hit a high line drive on an 0-2 pitch from Richard Vargas down the left field line. The ball appeared to leave the yard in fair territory for a game tying home run. The plate umpire initially called it a foul ball, but after discussion with the base umpire the ball was ruled a fair ball and a game-tying home run.
Clinton manager Eddie Menchaca was ejected for arguing after the call was changed.
The next two Timber Rattlers struck out, but Wisconsin would load the bases on two out singles by Adam Giacalone and Alfredo Rodriguez. A walk to Tyler Roberts loaded the bases. Chris McFarland lined a single to center to score pinch runner Adrian Williams and Rodriguez for a 4-2 lead.
Viramontes walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth. He got the first out on a popout to short. Then, Henry sent a grounder to short. The Rattlers got the force at second, but Henry barely beat the throw to first for what would have been a game ending double play and the game continued. Ketel Marte was next and he lined a ball right back at Viramontes on the mound.
Viramontes could not handle the line drive cleanly, but still had time to get the out at first. He picked the ball up off the mound and tossed underhanded to first base. But, the toss was too high for Max Walla and the ball rolled to the tarp along the fence line. Henry scored all the way from first and Marte wound up on third. Dario Pizzano singled through the left side of the infield to drive in Marte with the run that sent the game to extra innings.
Wisconsin regained the lead in the top of the eleventh. Roberts and McFarland each singled with one out to put runners at the corners. Reed singled through the right side of the infield to drive in Roberts with the go ahead run.
Jono Armold, who worked through a dicey tenth inning, pitched a 1-2-3 eleventh to nail down a hard earned win for the Timber Rattlers.
Taylor's home run, his sixth of the season, extended his hitting streak to eleven games. That is the longest hitting streak by a Wisconsin player this season.
Game four of the series is set for Friday night. Jorge Lopez (3-6, 6.46) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton has Tyler Pike (4-3, 2.91) as their scheduled starter. Game time is 7:00pm. Tune in on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:40pm.
Tyrone Taylor (6th, 0 on in 9th inning off Richard Vargas, 0 out)
Jordy Lara (6th, 0 on in 7th inning off Martin Viramontes, 0 out)
WP: Jono Armold (2-1)
LP: David Holman (1-4)