GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers needed a win over the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday night to keep their chances of making the Midwest League playoffs alive. It took awhile, but Michael Reed singled with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifteenth inning to drive in the winning run for Wisconsin's 5-4 victory at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Peoria (64-55 overall, 26-26 second half) went in front in the top of the first inning. Charlie Tilson homered with one out and none on base to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Wisconsin (52-65, 23-29) took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Max Walla doubled to right with two outs. Mike Garza and Victor Roache scored on the play and the Rattlers were up 2-1.
The Chiefs tied the game with a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Jeremy Schaffer tripled and Breyvic Valera drove him in with a single.
Garza put the Rattlers back in front in the bottom of the fifth inning. He doubled with two outs to drive in Orlando Arcia for a 3-2 lead.
Then, Tilson struck again with a leadoff home run in the top of the sixth.
The next runs for both teams were quirky.
Wisconsin took a 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning against Chiefs reliever Steve Sabatino. Arcial singled to start the inning. Tyrone Taylor bunted up the first base line and beat the play at first. Arcia and Taylor pulled a double steal as the throw went back to the pitcher after a pitch to Reed. Reed drew a walk to load the bases. Sabatino recovered to strike out the next two batters. But, his first pitch to Walla got by catcher Gerwuins Velazco for a passed ball that allowed Arcia to score.
Peoria had runners at first and second with two outs in the top of the eighth and Schaffer at the plate. Schaffer sent a high popup to shallow right near the foul line. The ball dropped in among three Rattlers fielders for a single. That allowed the runner from second to score to tie the game 4-4. Fortunately, the Rattlers threw Schaffer out at second base before the runner from first crossed the plate. Had they not retired Schaffer first, the run would have counted and the Chiefs would have been up by a run.
So, the game went on into the night.
The Timber Rattlers had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the thirteenth. Catcher Parker Berberet surprised everyone with a bunt single to start the inning. Alfredo Rodriguez drew a walk and Lane Roenicke took over at second base as the pinch runner for Berberet. Chris McFarland bunted the runners over and Arcia, who went 3-for-5 in the game, was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Tyrone Taylor sent a fly ball to shallow right. Roenicke tagged on the play, but Tilson's throw to the plate after the catch was on target and Roenicke was out on the inning ending double play.
And the game went on into the night.
Reliever Rodolfo Fernandez, who came on in the top of the twelfth inning, worked around a pair of two outs singles in the top of the fourteenth. In the fifteenth, Fernandez had a runners at first with two outs and made an errant throw to first base on a pickoff. That allowed the runner to get around to third base. Fernandez got out of the self-imposed jam with a fly ball to center and kept the game tied 4-4.
Rodriguez was at the plate with one out in the bottom of the fifteenth and drew a walk. He stole second and McFarland drew a walk. Ball four on the walk to McFarland just happened to get to the backstop for a wild pitch and the Rattlers had runners at the corners with one out. Peoria elected to intentionally walk Arcia a second time to load the bases for Taylor. Taylor struck out to bring Reed to the plate.
Reed wasted no time to end the contest. He singled through the middle of the diamond to knock in Rodriguez with the game winning run.
The victory knocked Peoria into a tie with the Clinton LumberKings for the second half Wild Card in the Midwest League's Western Division. The Rattlers moved to within three games of the Chiefs and the LumberKings with eighteen games remaining in the regular season.
Fernandez got the win with four innings of scoreless relief. He extended his current scoreless streak to twelve innings with his performance.
The Timber Rattlers and the Chiefs wrap their three-game series on Friday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Tyler Wagner (9-8, 3.25) is the scheduled starting pitcher for Wisconsin. Brad Watson (2-5, 4.05) is scheduled to start for the Chiefs. Game time is 7:05pm.
Come on out to the ballpark to help celebrate the birthday of Fang, the mascot of the Timber Rattlers. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to St. Joseph's Food Pantry and receive a slice of birthday cake as part of Cans for Cake. Also, Enjoy the pregame mascot kickball contest before the baseball game. The kickball game will feature many regional mascots from business and sports teams.
Kids 12 and under receive a free hot dog and soda as part of North Shore Bank Family Night. Children 14 and under may participate in Kids Run the Bases thanks to Molina Healthcare after the postgame fireworks display.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, tune in for the action on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Subscribers to MiLB.TV may also catch the broadcast.
Charlie Tilson (3rd, 0 on in 1st inning off Eric Semmelhack, 1 out)
Charlie Tilson (4th, 0 on in 6th inning off Eric Semmelhack, 0 out)
WP: Rodolfo Fernandez (3-3)
LP: Joe Scanio (3-3)