GENEVA, IL - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers tied the Kane County Cougars with a run in the top of the ninth inning on Friday night at Elfstrom Stadium. But, the Cougars scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on a throwing error to beat Wisconsin 2-1.
The Rattlers (26-22) collected two hits and had runners on second and third in the first inning against Kane County starting pitcher Yordano Ventura. But, Ventura got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning. That also started a streak of 11 straight batters retired by Ventura.
Ventura struck out ten, walked two, and didn't allow a run through five innings.
Wisconsin starting pitcher Jameson Dunn matched Ventura zero for zero. Dunn tossed 5-2/3 innings of shutout ball and allowed four hits.
Kane County (21-27) almost broke through on a single to right by Orlando Calixte in the bottom of the seventh against Rattlers reliever Eric Marzec. Chelsor Cuthbert tried to score from second base but, right fielder Franklin Romero made a perfect throw to the plate and cut down the run for the second out.
But, the Rattlers had very little time to savor the play. Travis Jones singled to center on the very next pitch and Calixte, who had taken second on the throw to the plate on the previous play, scored easily to put the Cougars in front 1-0.
Greg Billo, who relieved Ventura in the sixth inning, cruised through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. He even looked like he would cruise through the ninth.
Nick Shaw drew a one out walk and was still at first base with two outs. Then, Mike Walker cracked a double to right-center and sent Shaw home with the tying run.
But, Marzec, who had not allowed a run in 13-1/3 innings over eight appearances in the month of May, got into trouble in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Stovall doubled. Cuthbert singled and Stovall was held at third. Marzec walked Geulin Beltre intentionally to set up a force play at the plate.
Greg Holle came on to relieve Marzec and face Calixte to get the grounder that would allow for the force at the plate.
Callixte sent a slow chopper past the mound to shortstop Yadiel Rivera. Rivera charged and picked the ball clean on a good hop. But, he double-clutched and wound up rushing the throw to the plate. The throw was wild and to the backstop allowing Stovall to score the winning run.
Billo picked up the win. He struck out eight over four innings and is 3-1 on the season. Billo and Ventura combined on 18 strikeouts in the game.
The series continues on Saturday night. Austin Ross (5-1, 1.96) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Rattlers. Kane County will send Jason Adam (1-0, 2.19) to the hill. Game time is 6:00pm. Tune in for the broadcast starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com at 5:40pm.
WP: Greg Billo (3-1)
LP: Eric Marzec (2-1)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.