Grand Chute, WI- A six-run seventh inning led the Peoria Chiefs to an opening night 8-4 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on a cold Appleton evening. The Chiefs picked up just one hit through five innings but scored eight times over the next three innings against the Rattlers bullpen to move to 1-0 on the season.
"Anytime you can go on the road in tough conditions and battle to a win you have to be very pleased with the way you played," said manager Joe Kruzel "We had solid pitching and the defense was good with some nice plays throughout. We also had some good at-bats early in the game which led to us putting it all together in the seventh inning with the rally."
The starting pitchers, Jimmy Reed and Taylor Williams, kept the game scoreless into the bottom of the third. Rafael Neda singled with one out in the third and scored on a triple by Angel Ortega.
Williams held the Chiefs to just one infield hit over five innings while striking out seven. Tyler Alexander pitched the sixth inning and the Chiefs tied the game. Michael Schulze led off with a double to left and with one out both Mason Katz and Carson Kelly drew walks to load the bases. Ronald Castillo lifted a fly ball to foul territory in deep right field for a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Wisconsin regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth with a triple and sacrifice fly off reliever Arturo Reyes. The Chiefs took control of the game in the seventh inning against Alexander and Chris Razo. With one out Matthew Young and Juan Herrera each singled and Schulze drew his second walk of the game. Razo took over for Alexander and C.J. McElroy Jr. singled to left-center to put the Chiefs on top 3-2. Katz doubled home two more and Castillo added a RBI single after Kelly walked. With the Chiefs on top 6-2, Kenny Peoples-Walls singled to right to plate Kelly to add another run. The Chiefs loaded the bases again but settled for a six-run inning and a 7-2 lead.
The Rattlers grabbed a run back in the bottom of the seventh before Katz doubled home another run in the eighth inning. Wisconsin capped the scored on a solo home run from Clint Coulter in the ninth inning.
Reed allowed one run on four hits and one walk over five innings. The lefty struck out four in the no-decision. Reyes (1-0) allowed two runs on three hits over two innings with one walk and one strikeout. Chris Perry struck out three and allowed a solo home run two shutout innings.
Notes… The Chiefs are now 15-17 all-time in openers, 3-3 against Wisconsin…The eight runs are the most in an opener since the Chiefs last opened the season in Appleton with a 9-5 win in 2007…Peoria lost to Wisconsin 5-4 in 11 innings to start the 2013 season in Peoria…Schulze drew three walks and scored three runs with a stolen base…McElroy Jr. is switch-hitting this season and picked up his first career hits from the left side, including the go-ahead single in the seventh…Katz delivered two doubles and drove in three…The Chiefs sent 12 batters to the plate in the seventh inning with six runs, six hits and three walks in the inning…The Chiefs were 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position while the Rattlers were 0-for-6…The Chiefs turned three double plays including a 4-2-5-1-6-4-2 double play in the first with outs recorded at the plate and third base…Reed picked a runner off first base in the third inning…In his first game behind the plate, Kelly threw out one of two base stealers…The Chiefs drew eight walks...Chillicothe native Chris Razo entered with the bases loaded in the seventh and allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in 2/3 of an inning..All nine Chiefs starters reached base at least once and seven had hits…Gametime temperature was 32 degrees…Game two of the season is scheduled for Friday at 6:35 p.m. as the Chiefs send RH Silfredo Garcia (4-5, 3.82 in 2013) to the mound against Rattlers RH Barrett Astin (1-1, 4.30 in 2013)…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:15 p.m. on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive which also has downloads for a free app on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android…The broadcast is also available on the Peoria Chiefs Network in the Tune-In Radio App.