FORT WAYNE, IN - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had six hits and four runs in the first two games of the Midwest League Championship Series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps at home. A change of venue for Game Three was like a loud alarm clock as Wisconsin pounded out thirteen hits and scored ten runs on Saturday night at Parkview Field. The Rattlers needed almost every single run as they held off the TinCaps 10-8. The win gave Wisconsin a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
The TinCaps grabbed a quick lead in the first inning. Jace Peterson drew a leadoff walk. Tyler Stubblefield followed with a double to right-center on a 2-0 pitch to drive in Peterson. Later in the inning, Stubblefield tried to score from third on a grounder to short, but was cut down as catcher Rafael Neda held on after a collision at the plate.
Wisconsin tied the game in the top of the third inning. Chadwin Stang's infield single knocked in Adrian Williams from third base.
The TinCaps went back in front in the bottom of the third. Yeison Asencio tripled down the first base line to drive in a pair of runs for a 3-1 lead.
Then, the Rattlers bats woke up from their Championship Series slumber. Nick Ramirez started the bombardment with an opposite field homer to left as the leadoff batter in the fourth inning. The homer was the fourth of the playoffs for Ramirez. The blast was his second of the Championship Series.
It looked like that would be it for the scoring after a walk and a double play left the bases empty with two outs. But, Neda drew a walk and Lance Roenicke singled. Adrian Williams followed with a single to left and Neda beat the throw home to tie the game 3-3 and chase Fort Wayne starting pitcher Frank Garces.
Macias was next and he cracked a 3-2 pitch from reliever Cody Hebner over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer and a 6-3 lead.
Wisconsin starting pitcher David Goforth allowed a run in the fifth on a wild pitch but was throwing comfortably with the cushion through six innings. The right-hander out of Ole Miss struck out ten in the game to set a single game high as a professional in his second straight start.
Wisconsin tacked on insurance in both the seventh and eighth innings. Ben McMahan snapped an 0-for-16 streak with an RBI double in the seventh. In the eighth, Stang's bunt single with two outs and the bases loaded scored Williams from third. McMahan followed with a single that plated two runs for a 10-4 lead.
But, the final four outs were the toughest of the night for the Timber Rattlers.
Stosh Wawrzasek entered the game for the bottom of the eighth inning after Mike Strong tossed a scoreless seventh inning. Wawrzasek got the first two outs in the eighth, but a single and a walk were followed by an RBI single by Duanel Jones. Another walk loaded the bases. Peterson would single in another run before the final out of the inning was recorded. The Rattlers entered the ninth inning with a 10-6 lead.
Wisconsin's defense was the best in the Midwest League during the regular season and had committed four errors in the first 71 innings of the post season. But, the leadoff batter reached on an error in the bottom of the ninth. Wawrzasek got the first out. Then, a grounder that looked like a potential game ending double play was misplayed to extend the game. Austin Hedges made the Rattlers pay with an RBI double to left to make the score 10-7 and put runners at second and third with one out.
Santo Manzanillo came into the game and got a grounder to short for the second out. A run scored on the play to make the score 10-8. Jones stepped to the plate as the tying run with two out ... and Manzanillo struck him out swinging to preserve the victory for the Rattlers.
Macias led the way for Wisconsin's offense with three hits, three runs scored, and three RBI. Williams, McMahan, and Stang also had a pair of hits in the game for the Timber Rattlers.
Game Four of the Midwest League Championship Series is Sunday evening. Chad Thompson is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. James Needy is set to start for the TinCaps. A win by Wisconsin on Sunday lets them claim their first Midwest League pennant - and the first championship by an Appleton professional baseball team since the 1984 Appleton Foxes. A win by Fort Wayne on Sunday forces Game Five on Monday night.
Game time at Parkview Field on Sunday is 4:05pm CDT. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 3:45pm.
Nick Ramirez (4th, 0 on in 4th inning off Frank Garces, 0 out)
Brandon Macias (1st, 2 on in 4th inning off Cody Hebner, 2 out)
WP: David Goforth (2-0)
LP: Frank Garces (0-1)
SAVE: Santo Manzanillo (2)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.