SOUTH BEND, IN - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers used a grand slam by Clint Coulter and six strong innings from Preston Gainey to defeat the South Bend Silver Hawks 6-4 Saturday night at Four Winds Field.
Wisconsin (5-4) loaded the bases with two outs against South Bend starter Blake Perry in the top of the first. Coulter lined out to left to end the inning.
The Silver Hawks (4-5) took the lead with a little help from the Timber Rattlers. Joe Munoz singled with one out. A passed ball charged to catcher Rafael Neda sent him to second. A wild pitch by Gainey got him to third base and Neda's throw to third on the play was wild to let Munoz score the first run of the game.
Perry set the Rattlers down in order in the second and retired the first two batters he faced in the third inning. Michael Ratterree and Jose Pena both singled to extend the inning. David Denson drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Coulter.
Coulter crushed a 3-1 pitch from Perry over the grass seating above the wall in left-center for a grand slam and a 4-1 lead. The homer was the second of the season for Coulter.
South Bend manager Mark Haley, who had disagreed with the ball and strike calls of plate umpire Chris Lloyd during the top of the third, was ejected before the bottom of the third could get started.
Gainey pitched a scoreless third, struck out the side in order in the fourth, and went into cruise control. Gainey tossed a total of six innings, allowed two hits, and that lone unearned run. He also walked just one and set a new professional high for strikeouts in a game with eight.
Wisconsin's offense added two runs in the top of the seventh inning to extend their lead to 6-1. Omar Garcia and Chris McFarland both singled to start the inning and pulled a double steal to move to second and third. Garcia scored on a wild pitch. Pena got McFarland in with a grounder to short.
South Bend rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning against reliever Tyler Spurlin. Colin Bray hit a leadoff home run to right. Andrew Velazquez and Jamie Westbrook followed with consecutive doubles to make the score 6-3. Spurlin got consecutive ground outs by Stryker Trahan and Daniel Palka to get Westbrook home and cut Wisconsin's lead to two runs.
Chris Razo took over for Spurlin after Munoz singled with two outs. Razo got the final out of the eighth.
The Rattlers tried to add a run in the top of the ninth. Garcia walked and stole second to get into scoring position. McFarland moved Garcia to third with a ground out. Ratterree sent a fly ball to foul territory near the South Bend bullpen and right fielder Zach Esquerra made the catch. Garcia challenged the arm of Esquerra and lost as he was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Razo didn't allow the Silver Hawks to get started in the ninth as he retired the side in order, striking out the final two batters to record his first professional save.
Wisconsin snapped a seven game losing streak to the Silver Hawks with Saturday's victory. The Rattlers previous win over South Bend was on July 18, 2011.
The final game of Wisconsin's six-game road trip is Sunday against the Silver Hawks. Zach Quintana (0-0, 2.25) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. South Bend has Austin Platt (0-0, 4.91) as their scheduled starter. Game time is 1:05pm CDT. Tune in for the broadcast on AM 1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the pregame show at 12:45pm CDT.
Clint Coulter (2nd, GRAND SLAM in 3rd inning off Blake Perry, 2 out)
Colin Bray (1st, 0 on in 8th inning off Tyler Spurlin, 0 out)
WP: Preston Gainey (1-0)
LP: Blake Perry (0-1)
SAVE: Chris Razo (1)