CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - Tyrone Taylor's seventh inning grand slam put the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ahead to stay in an 8-7 victory over the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Taylor also doubled and drove in a total of five runs to bring the Rattlers back from a 6-2 deficit and snap a streak of seven straight losses to the Kernels.
It was not a good start for Wisconsin (35-45 overall, 6-9 second half). JD Williams hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning to put the Kernels in front 1-0.
Cedar Rapids (52-31, 12-3) added to their lead in the third inning. Jhonatan Arias doubled with one out. Williams followed with an RBI triple. Wisconsin starter Leonard Lorenzo got the second out with a strikeout, but walked the next two batters to load the bases. Max Kepler made the Rattlers pay for the free runners with a two-run double for a 4-0 Cedar Rapids lead.
The top of the Timber Rattlers batting order rallied in the top of the fourth. Alfredo Rodriguez got on with an infield single. One out later Tyrone Taylor doubled to left-center to drive in Rodriguez. Later in the inning, Mike Garza singled to knock in Taylor and the Rattlers were down 4-2.
But, the Kernels answered with single runs in their half of the fourth and fifth. Williams singled in the run in the fourth. An error on a grounder off the bat of Adam Brett Walker with runners at the corners got the Cedar Rapids run home in the fifth for a 6-2 advantage.
Cedar Rapids gave Wisconsin a run in the top of the sixth inning. Michael Reed scored from second when Niko Goodrum missed a grounder to short off the bat of Victor Roache. That was just a start for Wisconsin.
In the seventh inning, Chris McFarland and Adam Giacalone singled with one out. But, they were still at first and second with two outs. Then, Rodriguez drew a walk to load the bases. Reed was next and he drew a four pitch walk from Kaleb Merck to force in a run and cut the Kernels lead to two runs.
Merck was replaced by left-handed All-Star reliever Steven Gruver to face Taylor with the bases loaded and two outs. Gruver got Taylor to swing and miss the first pitch. But, the Minor League Player of the Month for June in the Milwaukee Brewers organization did not miss the next pitch. Taylor crushed a line drive deep into the night over the wall in left for a grand slam and an 8-6 lead.
That bases loaded home run by Taylor was the first by a Timber Rattler since July 4, 2012. Chadwin Stang hit a grand slam in Cedar Rapids 366 days ago.
Martin Viramontes, who pitched around a pair of hits for a scoreless seventh inning, almost pitched around three walks in the bottom of the eighth. The Kernels had loaded the bases walks to the first, second and fourth batters of the inning. Viramontes got the second out with a strikeout of Kepler, who had been 4-for-4 to that point of the game.
Walker was next and sent a slow grounder towards short. The flip to second was late as Travis Harrison, the runner from first, beat the force play and Walker had made the score 8-7 with his infield single.
Viramontes got the next batter to ground out to first and kept the Rattlers up by a run.
Jono Armold entered in the bottom of the ninth inning and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, including a pair of strikeouts to close out the Rattlers win. Armold struck out Williams, who homered to stat the scoring back in the first inning, to end the game.
Harvey Martin, in his second appearance with the Timber Rattlers, picked up the win in relief. It was the first professional victory for the 2013 NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year and Minnesota State, Mankato.
The Timber Rattlers continue their road trip with game one of a three game series against the Burlington Bees at Community Field on Saturday night. Eric Semmelhack (1-4, 4.18) is the scheduled starting pitcher for Wisconsin. Pat Lowrey (3-5, 4.67) is set to start on the bump for the Bees. Game time is 6:30pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm.
Tyrone Taylor (7th, GRAND SLAM in 7th inning off Steven Gruver, 2 out)
JD Williams (7th, 0 on in 1st inning off Leonard Lorenzo, 0 out)
WP: Harvey Martin (1-1)
LP: Caleb Merck (1-1)