GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Quad Cities River Bandits and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers began an important four-game series on Friday night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The River Bandits scored eight times in the final two innings to defeat the Timber Rattlers 10-5.
Chris McFarland gave the Timber Rattlers (46-44 overall, 10-11 second half) a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. His two-out single drove in Rafael Neda from third.
In the fifth, Angel Ortega doubled to open the frame and was at third with two outs. Bandits starting pitcher Andrew Thurman threw ball four to Michael Ratterree and it was wild. That allowed Ortega to score for a 2-0 lead.
Quad Cities (47-43, 12-9) loaded the bases against Wisconsin starter Preston Gainey in the top of the sixth inning with two outs. Rodriguez, who had struck out his first two times to bat against Gainey in the game, lined a single to left to drive in two runs to tie the game 2-2. Gainey struck out seven over six innings, but had a no decision in the game.
Wisconsin went back in front in the bottom of the seventh with a two out rally against Chris Lee. Johnny Davis reached on a bunt single. McFarland singled to put runners at first and second. Ratterree launched a 2-1 pitch from Lee to right-center. The ball hit on the warning track and bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. Davis scored the go ahead run, but McFarland - who would have scored easily - had to return to third base.
Lee walked Clint Coulter intentionally to load the bases and allow the left-handed pitcher to face left-hand hitting Dustin DeMuth. The strategy worked as Lee got DeMuth to ground out to short to end the inning with the Rattlers up 3-2.
Harvey Martin, who had pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Timber Rattlers, got into trouble in the top of the eighth. Brian Holberton singled off Martin's glove to start the inning. Jose Fernandez followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Marc Wik was next and his single to left plated Holberton with the tying run. That was all for Harvey.
Reliever Luke Curtis entered the game to make his home debut for the Timber Rattlers. He struck out Rodriguez for the first out. James Ramsay dropped a safety squeeze bunt. The flip to the plate by Curtis was late and Fernandez scored the run to make it 4-3. Brett Phillips added to the lead with a two-run triple to right-center. Dayne Parker capped the inning with a sacrifice fly and the Bandits were up 7-3.
Wisconsin had back-to-back singles by Omar Garcia and Neda with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Lee got out of the inning with a 6-4-3 double play.
The River Bandits padded their lead in the top of the ninth. Holberton was at third with two outs and a single by Wik got him home. Rodriguez was down 0-2 in the count when he lifted a two-run homer to left. The homer was the first of the season by Rodriguez and it gave Quad Cities a 10-3 lead.
Wisconsin did put together a rally in the top of the ninth. McFarland singled with one out for his third hit of the game. Ratterree drew a walk. Coulter singled. The bases were loaded and that was all for Lee.
DeMuth greeted Chris Cotton with a single up the middle to drive in two runs and the Rattlers were down 10-5. Cotton retired the next two batters to close out the game.
This series is the final meeting of the regular season between the Timber Rattlers and River Bandits. Both teams missed the playoffs in the first half and are fighting for one of two spots in the second half. Quad Cities is now up two games on the Rattlers in the Wild Card standings. Additionally, Quad Cities now leads the season series 7-6 and has outscored the Timber Rattlers 63-58. The first tie-breaker is the team that wins the season series. The second tie-breaker is run differential.
Wisconsin has lost five of their last six games to see their second half record fall below .500 for the first time.
Game two of the series is Saturday night. Anthony Banda (4-6, 4.34) has been named the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Quad Cities calls on Jandel Gustave (5-4, 4.87) as their starter. Game time is 6:35pm.
The ballpark transforms into a fairy tale castle for Storybook Princess Night presented by Fox River Mall on Saturday night. The first 500 children to attend this game will receive a tiara from Fox River Mall. Plus, some of your favorite storybook princesses will be on hand to meet fans for photos throughout the game. Plus, there is Baseball Bingo from Potawatomi and a postgame fireworks display presented by FOX 11 that will be up to the standards of our royal guests.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, there are several ways to follow the action. MyNEW 32's Sports Showdown has the television broadcast starting at 6:30pm. The radio broadcast may be heard on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio beginning with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:15pm. Subscribers to MiLB.TV can catch the game, too.
Jake Rodriguez (1st, 1 on in 9th inning off Luke Curtis, 2 out)
WP: Chris Lee (5-5)
LP: Harvey Martin (2-5)