CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - A two-out RBI single by Jean Almanzar in the bottom of the eighth inning drove in the go ahead run for Cedar Rapids Kernels in a 6-5 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The loss just added insult to injury for Wisconsin. Earlier in the night, Quad Cities defeated Peoria to eliminate the Rattlers from contention in the race for the first half Western Division Wild Card spot.
Wisconsin (37-32) scored in the first inning. Reggie Keen reached on an error and stole second. He moved to third on a fly ball to right off the bat of Nick Shaw. Cody Hawn followed with a single to right to score Keen for a 1-0 lead.
Cedar Rapids (32-37) tied the game in the bottom of the first. Travis Witherspoon singled, stole second, went to third on a grounder, and scored on a single by Jeremy Cruz.
The Rattlers went back in front in the top of the second inning. TJ Mittelstaedt drew a leadoff walk and went around to third on a pair of wild pitches. Chad Stang drove in Mittelstaedt with a sacrifice fly.
But, the Kernels rallied against Wisconsin starter Jameson Dunn in the bottom of the second. Cedar Rapids loaded the bases on a strikeout with a wild pitch to allow the runner to reach, a single, and a walk. Almanzar was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Then, Witherspoon knocked in one more with a sacrifice fly for a 3-2 advantage.
Hawn delivered an RBI double in the top of the third to drive in the tying run. The Rattlers first baseman had three hits on the night.
Witherspoon reached on a leadoff walk in the fifth inning and stole his 31st base of the season. A grounder to the right side of the infield moved Witherspoon to the plate. A wild pitch with Cruz at the plate let Witherspoon score the go-ahead run. Cruz followed with a long home run to right-center and the Kernels were up 5-3.
The Rattlers struggled to get anything going against Kernels reliever Tyler Kehrer. But, Greg Hopkins reached on a hit batsman with one out in the top of the eighth. Mike Walker bunted and the ball appeared to have come back up and hit him on the chin for a foul ball. However, the ball was ruled fair by the plate umpire. Walker was out at first, but Hopkins trucked around to third.
Rattlers hitting coach Dusty Rhodes was ejected for arguing the call with the umpire.
Chris Dennis was next and he drew a walk. Rattlers manager Matt Erickson called on Franklin Romero to pinch run for Dennis. The move paid off for the Rattlers.
Romero broke for second on a pitch to Mittelstaedt, but the throw went to third to try to get Hopkins. The pickoff attempt wound up in left field and Hopkins scored easily.
The Kernels outfield was set up in a no doubles defensive alignment and left fielder Justin Bass was playing back near the warning track and well off the line towards left-center. Romero never stopped running. He scored the tying run easily and the Rattlers had tied the game 5-5.
However, Rattlers reliever Tyler Cravy issued back-to-back walks with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Eric Marzec came on in relief and got the second out of the inning. But, Almanzar drove a 2-2 pitch back through the middle of the diamond to drive in the go ahead run.
The Rattlers went down quietly in the top of the ninth inning against Donn Roach.
Quad Cities defeated the Peoria Chiefs at Modern Woodmen Park on Saturday night by a final of 6-1. The River Bandits are 39-29 in the first half. Wisconsin trails the Bandits by 2.5 games with only one game remaining in the first half.
The final game of the first half is Sunday afternoon at 2:05pm at Cedar Rapids. Wisconsin has Austin Ross (6-3, 3.39) as the scheduled starting pitcher. Cedar Rapids will send Brian Diemer (6-4, 3.44) to the hill. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 1:45pm.
Jeremy Cruz (5th, 0 on in 5th inning, off Jameson Dunn, 1 out)
WP: Tyler Kehrer (1-0)
LP: Tyler Cravy (3-2)
SAVE: Donn Roach (2)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.