GRAND CHUTE, WI - The series finale between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Dayton Dragons on Monday afternoon at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium was filled with twists and turns and bumps and bruises, but the Rattlers outlasted the Dragons 5-4 in eleven innings. Jose Pena drove in the winning run with a single in the eleventh inning to put an exclamation point at the end of an odd game.
David Denson gave Wisconsin (52-47 overall, 16-14 second half) a 1-0 lead with a mammoth home run to center. The ball sailed out of the stadium just to the right of the extended batters' eye that sits atop the wall beyond the boardwalk for a home run of over 450 feet. The homer was Denson's fourth of the year and his first since rejoining the team on July 18.
Dayton (50-48, 14-16) tied the game in the top of the fifth. Jamodrick McGruber singled with two outs to drive in Jonathan Reynoso from third to even the score.
That was the only run allowed by Wisconsin starting pitcher Taylor Williams. The right-hander, who was pitching on his 23rd birthday, struck out a professional career high nine and allowed three hits over 6-2/3 innings.
Wisconsin went back in front in the bottom of the sixth. Omar Garcia singled and Chris McFarland walked to start the inning. Michael Ratterree drove in Garcia with a single and the Rattlers were up 2-1.
Williams would walk Reynoso to start the seventh. Reynoso stole second to get into scoring position. Williams struck out the next two batters to get two outs. He was nearly to 100 pitches and came out of the game in favor of Tyler Alexander, who walked McGruder to put two runners on base. Alexander got the final out of the seventh on a tapper back to the mound.
The game zigged in the top of the eighth. Alexander got the first out with a strikeout, but walked Phil Ervin and allowed a single to Jose Ortiz. Carlos Rosa was next and he hammered a tape-measure home run to left on the first pitch he saw from Alexander and the Dragons were up 4-2.
Alexander hit Reynoso with the next pitch and the benches cleared as Reynoso stalked to the mound. Wisconsin catcher Rafael Neda got between Reynoso and the mound as Alexander tossed his glove aside and walked towards Reynoso. While that was going on, a heated altercation developed between Denson and Ortiz near first base.
The respective coaching staffs calmed the situation down before things escalated. The end result was ejections for Alexander, Denson, Ortiz, and Reynoso.
Harvey Martin came into the game to replace Alexander and retired the next two hitters and get the game to the bottom of the eighth. That's where the game zagged.
Zack Weiss took over on the mound for the Dragons and walked Garcia. McFarland followed with a single. Ratterree drew a walk and the bases were loaded with no outs. The Dragons called for Alejandro Chacin to bail them out of the inning.
Chacin got Taylor Brennan to ground into a 6-3 double play that allowed Garcia to score. The Rattlers trailed 4-3 and had a runner at third, but there were two outs.
McGruder, who started the game at second base, had been moved to left after the defensive changed that were needed due to the Dayton ejections in the top of the inning. He had played one game in the outfield this season prior to Thursday, but had been an infielder/outfielder in the Seattle Mariners system for two seasons prior to joining the Reds organization this year.
Steve Halcomb, who entered the game at first base for Denson after the ejection, stepped to the plate with the tying run at third and sent a fly to the track in left. McGruder got back to the track and leapt, but just missed the ball. Halcomb's double allowed McFarland to score the tying run to even the game 4-4.
Martin tossed 3-2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts to keep the game tied and give Wisconsin a chance to win the game. The Rattlers hitters could not strike the winner in the ninth or tenth.
In the eleventh, Neda drew a walk off Scott Brattvet, the fifth Dayton pitcher, to start the inning. Dustin DeMuth sacrificed Neda into scoring position with a bunt. Brattvet threw a wild pitch with Pena at the plate to get Neda to third.
Then, Pena smacked a single to right on a 3-2 pitch to drive in Neda with the winning run.
This was Pena's second walkoff hit of the season. He had previously hit an extra-innings walkoff, three-run home run to beat Lansing 10-7 in the first game of a doubleheader on April 16.
Wisconsin has won two in a row and finished their ten-game homestand with a 6-4 record.
The Timber Rattlers are off on Tuesday. They return to action on Wednesday night at Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio with a game against the Lake County Captains. Preston Gainey (2-6, 3.95) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Dace Kim (5-11, 4.81) is set to start for the Captains. Game time is 6:00pm CDT. The broadcast is available on AM1280, WNAM and IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 5:40pm.
Gabriel Rosa (1st, 2 on in 8th inning off Tyler Alexander, 1 out)
David Denson (4th, 0 on in 2nd inning off Amir Garrett, 1 out)
WP: Harvey Martin (3-5)
LP: Scott Brattvet (3-6)