GRAND CHUTE, WI - Bruce Caldwell picked a great time to hit his first Midwest League home run. The Peoria Chiefs second baseman hit a two-run home run in the top of the eleventh inning. That long ball broke a 1-1 tie and led the way to Peoria's 3-1 victory over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The loss dropped Wisconsin to four games off the pace set by the Chiefs for the second half Western Division Wild Card.
Jeremy Schaffer put the Chiefs (64-54 overall, 26-25 second half) in front with a leadoff home run in the top of the second inning.
Peoria threatened to expand their lead in the third inning as they loaded the bases with one out on a walk and a pair of infield singles. Rattlers starting pitcher Preston Gainey escaped the game by getting an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Wisconsin (51-65, 22-29) tied the game with a solo home run of their own. Orlando Arcia drilled a ball over the wall in left-center for his third home run of the year with one out in the fifth inning.
Both teams had base runners, but neither starting pitcher buckled after the game was tied. Gainey used a pair of double plays and struck out seven over six innings to hold the Chiefs to one run. The seven strikeouts was a new single game high as a professional for Gainey. Chris Perry scattered eight hits over 6-2/3 innings to hold Wisconsin to a run.
The Rattlers had chance against Perry in the bottom of the sixth inning. Max Walla singled up the middle of the diamond. Chiefs shortstop Juan Herrera fielded the ball in short center, whirled, and threw wildly to first. Walla went for second base, but the ball caromed off the railing right to Perry in fair territory halfway up the first base line. Perry fired to second with third baseman Breyvic Valera covering the base and Walla was out. The next two Rattlers - Parker Berberet and Alfredo Rodriguez singled - to put runners at first and second with two outs and Tyler Roberts at the plate. The first pitch to Roberts got away from catcher Gerwuins Velazco. Both runners tried to move up a base. Velazco took the trail runner and threw out Rodriguez at second for the final out of the inning.
The Chiefs put two runners on with one out against reliever Ryan Gibbard in the top of the seventh, but Gibbard for Ildemaro Vargas to ground into an inning ending 3-6-1 double play.
Charlie Tilson dropped a bunt single to start the top of the eleventh inning. Caldwell, who was playing in his twelfth game of the season with the Chiefs, stepped to the plate and ran the count to 3-2. The lefty sent a fly ball to the left of the batter's eye in center field. Wisconsin outfielder Tyrone Taylor went back to the wall and leapt, but the ball carried into the Peoria bullpen for a two-run home run and a 3-1 lead.
Dixon Llorens, who worked a 1-2-3 tenth, struck out the side in order in the bottom of the eleventh inning to pick up his third win of the season.
Wednesday was the fifth time a game between the Timber Rattlers and Chiefs has gone to extra innings in 2013. Wisconsin is 1-4 in extra innings against Peoria this season.
The loss dropped the Timber Rattlers four games behind the Chiefs in the second half Western Division Wild Card Race. Peoria stays two games in front of the Clinton LumberKings, who beat Quad Cities 9-7 at home on Wednesday night. There are 19 games left in the regular season.
Game two of the series is Thursday night. Eric Semmelhack (2-6, 5.02) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Silfredo Garcia (3-4, 4.21) is set to start for the Chiefs. Game time is 7:05pm.
Thursday night is Hardee's Night and Hardee's will have fun, coupons, and surprises for the whole family. The Community Blood Center will be on hand to let fans know how they can Step Up to the Plate and Donate. Fans can also enjoy 16oz soda, beer, or Arty's Old Fashioned drinks for just $2 as part of Thirsty Thursday presented by Arty's Old Fashioned and 95.9 KISS FM.
If you can't make it out to the stadium, you may catch the action in other ways. Time Warner Cable SportsChannel has the television broadcast starting at 7:00pm. The radio broadcast may be heard on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Subscribers to MiLB.TV may also see the game.
Jeremy Schaffer (11th, 0 on in 2nd inning off Preston Gainey, 0 out)
Bruce Caldwell (1st, 1 on in 11th inning off Ryan Gibbard, 0 out)
Orlando Arcia (3rd, 0 on in 5th inning off Chris Perry, 1 out)
WP: Dixon Llorens (3-2)
LP: Ryan Gibbard (4-4)