GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers stranded fourteen runners against the Quad Cities River Bandits on Thursday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium and it cost them a 6-3 loss and another game in the playoff standings. Both teams had ten hits, but the River Bandits did more with their opportunities to beat Wisconsin.
Rattlers starting pitcher Ryan Gibbard got the first out of the game, but walked the next two batters. A groundout to first moved both runners into scoring position. Rio Ruiz drove in both runners with a single to center and the River Bandits (78-56 overall, 40-25 second half) were up 2-0.
The Rattlers (59-72, 30-36) responded in the bottom of the first. Alfredo Rodriguez doubled and Michael Reed walked to start the inning. Victor Roache drew a one out walk to load the bases. Parker Berberet lined out to center to drive in Rodriguez.
Wisconsin tied the game in the bottom of the second inning. Mike Garza singled to start the inning and was at second with two outs. Rodriguez lined a single to left to drive in Garza to even the score 2-2.
Quad Cities came back with two more runs in the top of the third. A single and a walk with one out put two runners on base. Danry Vasquez followed with an RBI double. Ruiz knocked in his third run of the game with a single to left and the River Bandits were back up by two runs.
Berberet drew a bases loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning against reliever Jemaine Cotton to pull Wisconsin to within a run. But, that would be as close as Wisconsin would get in the game.
The Wisconsin defense and reliever Preston Gainey kept the game close. Gainey, who came on in the top of the fourth inning got four double plays turned behind him in his first four innings on the mound. Combine those twin killings with the two turned with Gibbard on the mound and the team had six double plays in the game. That missed tying the Midwest League mark by one. The Waterloo Indians turned seven double plays in a game against the South Bend White Sox on July 19, 1988 to set the current record.
The Timber Rattlers offense could not get a runner past second base against Cotton, who left with a runner at first and two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Sidearm-tossing, right-hander Patrick Christensen came on to get the final out of the eighth.
Gainey, retired the first batter in the top of the ninth inning before he walked the next two batters. Gainey would get ahead of Roberto Pena and was looking for a seventh double play of the game. The River Bandits catcher foiled that plan by lining a 1-2 pitch to the gap in left-center for a two-run double and a 6-3 lead.
In the ninth, the Rattlers were hoping to catch another dramatic rally to tie or win the game. The team has won five games when trailing heading into the ninth inning this season. Berberet doubled with one out and Garza singled - his fourth hit of the game - with two outs to put runners on the corners and bring the tying run to the plate. Christensen struck out pinch-hitter Max Walla to end the game.
The Clinton LumberKings, the leaders for the Western Division Wild Card in the second half, snapped a seven game losing streak with a 3-2 win at Peoria on Thursday night. Clinton moved their second half record to 32-34 and dropped their magic number over the Timber Rattlers dropped to two. Any combination of two Clinton wins or two Wisconsin losses over the final four games of the regular season allows the LumberKings to clinch the Wild Card. Clinton owns the tie-breaker between the teams by winning the season series and will claim the playoff spot if the teams finish the half tied.
The final home game of the regular season is Friday night. Rodolfo Fernandez (4-3, 2.51) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Quad Cities counters with Zach Morton (0-1, 1.98). Game time is 7:05pm.
Get a jump start on that landscaping project by coming to the ballpark on Friday. Boldt and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are giving away Colorado Spruce saplings to the first 1,000 fans through the gates.
Kids 12 and under receive a free hot dog and soda as part of North Shore Bank Family Night. BioLife Plasma Services presents the final fireworks display of the 2013 season. Children 14 and under may participate in Kids Run the Bases thanks to Molina Healthcare after the fireworks.
If you can't make it to the game, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Friday's game is also available to MiLB.TV subscribers.
WP: Jemaine Cotton (2-5)
LP: Ryan Gibbard (4-7)
SAVE: Patrick Christensen (1)