BELOIT, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will not go away. Wisconsin scrapped for a 6-4 win over the Beloit Snappers on Saturday night at Pohlman Field. Orlando Arcia and Max Walla led the opportunistic offense with three hits apiece and the Rattlers crept closer in the playoff race.
Both teams had similar starts to their first inning.
The first two Timber Rattlers to bat reached base. Alfredo Rodriguez started the game with a walk and Arcia singled. But, a double play ball and a grounder to short ended the promising inning.
The first two Snappers to bat in their half of the first reached base on back-to-back walks by Wisconsin starter Jorge Lopez to Brett Vertigan and Daniel Robertson. An errant pickoff throw to first by catcher Tyler Roberts with Renato Nunez at the plate allowed Vertigan to go to third. Then, Nunez hit into a double play and Vertigan scored the first run of the game.
Wisconsin (53-66 overall, 24-30 second half) rallied on an error by Nunez in the top of the second. Parker Berberet walked to start the frame. Walla topped a grounder up the third base line. Nunez charged, fielded the ball with his bare hand, and fired wildly to first. Berberet scored easily and Walla wound up at third base. But, Wisconsin could not get the lead in the second.
That would have to wait until the third. Arcia lined a home run just inside the pole and just over the wall for his fourth home run of the season. The leadoff homer by the Wisconsin shortstop gave them a 2-1 lead.
But, Beloit (67-57, 24-30) came back with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning. They had loaded the bases on a pair of infield singles and a walk. There was one out and Sam Roberts weak grounder to second could only be turned into a force at second base. That fielder's choice allowed the runner from third to tie the game 2-2.
The Rattlers grabbed control of the game in the top of the fifth. Rodriguez was at first with one out and Arcia drove a text book hit-and-run single to right field to put runners at the corners for Tyrone Taylor. Taylor lined a single to left and Rodriguez scored the go ahead run.
Victor Roache was next and he sent a one-hopper to third. Nunez went to second to try and start an inning ending double play. But, the throw was wild. Arcia scored and Taylor wound up on third base. Parker Berberet followed with a sacrifice fly to score Taylor for a 5-2 lead.
Walla capped the scoring in the inning with a double to left-center that scored Roache from first base.
Lopez went back out for the bottom of the fifth inning with a 6-2 lead and pitched a 1-2-3 frame.
Reliever Hobbs Johnson struck out three and allowed a hit in a scoreless sixth, but his degree of difficulty went up in the seventh as he walked three batters and the Snappers had the bases loaded with one out. Johnson would escape the inning by getting Robertson to ground into an inning ending double play.
Beloit rallied in the eighth against Jono Armold. John Wooten hit a solo homer with two outs for the first run of the inning. Matt Olson singled with two away. Dayton Alexander doubled into the corner in left and Olson came around to score the run and Beloit was within two runs.
Armold would work a perfect ninth inning to close out the game.
In the race for the second half Wild Card spot in the Western Division, the Rattlers moved to within three games of the teams tied for that spot. Both Clinton and Peoria lost on Saturday night. The LumberKings were beaten 7-6 at Kane County. Peoria lost 6-1 at home to Cedar Rapids. The LumberKings and Chiefs remain tied for the Wild Card spot with a second half record at 27-27.
Game two of the four game series is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Austin Ross (1-0, 3.63) is scheduled to start for the Timber Rattlers. Deyvi Jimenez (2-4, 8.35) is set to take the mound for the Snappers. Game time is 2:00pm. Tune if for the action on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 1:40pm.
Orlando Arcia (4th, 0 on in 3rd inning off Andres Avila, 0 out)
John Wooten (18th, 0 on in 8th inning off Jono Armold, 1 out)
WP: Jorge Lopez (7-8)
LP: Andres Avila (5-4)