PEORIA, IL - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers needed a win over the Peoria Chiefs on Friday night at Dozer Park to keep their playoff hopes alive. Starting pitcher Mike Strong did his part and the Rattlers offense did their part to get Wisconsin a much needed 4-2 win over the Chiefs.
Wisconsin (49-63 overall, 20-27 second half) got out of the gate in a hurry. Tyrone Taylor started the game with a double. Mike Garza cracked a two-run homer to left-center with one out and the Rattlers had a 2-0 in the first inning.
Taylor put Wisconsin up 3-0 in the top of the second. Max Walla doubled to start the inning and came in on Taylor's two-out single.
The Chiefs (62-52, 24-23) cashed in a leadoff walk in the bottom of the second to cut into the Rattlers lead. Breyvic Valera drew a walk and stole second. Juan Herrera singled to right and that got Valera home to make the score 3-1.
Walla and Taylor combined to add to the Rattlers lead in the fourth inning. Walla started the inning with a double and took third on a ground out. Taylor's two-out infield single was enough to score Walla and the Rattlers were up 4-1.
Strong shut the Chiefs down from the RBI single by Herrera in the second and the end of the sixth as he retired fourteen straight Peoria batters. Jeremy Schaffer snapped that string with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Schaffer's tenth home run of the season cut Wisconsin's lead to 4-2.
Strong made it out of the seventh inning with no more runs scored against him. In his first start since June 7, Strong went seven innings to match his professional high for innings pitched in a game. He walked three, allowed two hits, and struck out six.
Rodolfo Fernandez took over in the bottom of the eighth inning and worked around a two-out triple to send the game to the ninth with the Rattlers still up by two runs. Fernandez finished off the Chiefs with a 1-2-3 ninth inning and the Rattlers picked up the win.
Walla, Taylor, and Garrett Cooper led the way for the Timber Rattlers offense. Walla picked up his third 4-hit game of the season with three doubles, a single, and two runs scored. Taylor, in his second game back off the disabled list had a double, two singles, a run scored, a stolen base, and two RBI. Cooper went 2-for-4 in the game for his fifth straight multi-hit game.
Wisconsin's victory moved them back to within four games of the Chiefs for the second half Western Division Wild Card. There are 23 games remaining in the regular season.
The Timber Rattlers continue their road trip on Saturday night with game one of a three game series against the Quad Cities River Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park. Tyler Wagner (8-8, 3.38) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Joe Bircher (3-1, 2.96) is set to start for the River Bandits. Game time is 7:00pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:40pm.
Mike Garza (3rd, 1 on in 1st inning off Brad Watson, 1 out)
Jeremy Schaffer (10th, 0 on in 7th inning off Mike Strong, 0 out)
WP: Mike Strong (3-3)
LP: Brad Watson (2-5)
SAVE: Rodolfo Fernandez (4)