BURLINGTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers closed out their regular season with a doubleheader sweep of the Burlington Bees at Community Field on Monday afternoon. Chadwin Stang hit a pair of homers and Mike Garza chipped in with a homer in the nightcap for an 8-3 win. The two wins in the twinbill gave Wisconsin a three-game series sweep of the team they will face in the first round of the Midwest League Playoffs.
Stang blasted his first solo shot in the first inning. His one out home run was his ninth of the season and the third of the afternoon - the Rattlers hit two homers in the first game of the doubleheader - for Wisconsin hitters.
Burlington (67-72 overall, 35-35 second half) scored twice in the bottom of the first inning. Addison Russell doubled to knock in the first run. A sacrifice fly from Wade Kirkland made it 2-1.
The Bees almost blew the game open in the bottom of the third inning. They had the bases loaded and one out with Douglas Landaeta at the plate. Landaeta sent a line drive to the gap in right-center field that appeared headed for a bases clearing extra base hit. But, Max Walla made a spectacular diving catch to rob Landaeta of a hit. A run scored from third on the sacrifice fly to put Burlington up by two runs, but it could have been worse.
The Rattlers offense took advantage of some sloppy Burlington defense to take the lead in the fourth inning. Stang walked and Walla singled to put runners at the corners with no outs. Cameron Garfield's grounder to third was booted for an error to let Stang score. A one-out double by Yadiel Rivera drove in Walla to tie the game 3-3. Lance Roenicke put the Rattlers in front when his broken bat grounder to third base drove in Garfield and put Rivera to third base. A wild pitch later in the inning let Rivera score for a four run inning and a 5-3 lead.
Wisconsin (78-61, 34-36) added another run in the fifth inning when Carlos George scored from third base on an errant pickoff throw to first.
Michael White came out of the bullpen for the Rattlers and kept the Bees in check. Then, the Rattlers put the finishing touches on the Bees in the top of the seventh inning. Mike Garza hit a leadoff homer - the fourth long ball of the day for the Rattlers - in the top of the seventh for his first Midwest League home run.
Stang went deep again, his tenth home run of the season, with two outs in the seventh for an 8-3 lead. The Rattlers finished the year with five players reaching double digits in home runs. Nick Ramirez (16), Ben McMahan (15), Cameron Garfield (11), and Stang.
White worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh for his first save.
Wisconsin's offense hit 107 home runs during the 2012 season. That broke the previous high of 101 set by the 2005 Timber Rattlers.
The teams will be off on Tuesday before meeting in Game One of their best-of-three first round Midwest League playoff matchup on Wednesday at Community Field. Game time is 6:30pm.
The Rattlers will have Jacob Barnes (4-7, 3.84) as their Game One starting pitcher. Burlington has tentatively announced AJ Cole (6-3, 2.07) as their Game One starter. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10.
Game Two of the series will be at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium on Thursday night at 6:35pm. Chad Pierce (7-5, 3.47) is the scheduled starter for the Rattlers when the series returns to Grand Chute. Tickets for Game Two are available at the Timber Rattlers Box Office, by calling (800) WI-TIMBER or (920) 733-4152, or through timberrattlers.com.
Chadwin Stang (9th, 0 on in 1st inning off Seth Frankoff, 1 out)
Mike Garza (1st, 0 on in 7th inning off Chas Mye, 0 out)
Chadwin Stang (10th, 0 on in 7th inning off Chas Mye, 2 out)
WP: Santo Manzanillo (2-1)
LP: David Mota (3-1)
SAVE: Michael White (1-0)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.