GRAND CHUTE, WI - Yadiel Rivera couldn't get a bunt down in the bottom of the tenth, but everything turned out okay for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Sunday afternoon. Rivera would hit a three-run, walkoff homer to beat the Beloit Snappers 5-2 at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. As an added bonus, the Peoria Chiefs beat the Kane County Cougars about 45 minutes after the Rattlers win. Wisconsin clinched their first playoff appearance since 2005 when the Cougars lost that game in Peoria.
Wisconsin (40-23) loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. They scored a run when cleanup hitter Nick Ramirez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Ramirez put the Rattlers up 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Jason Rogers dumped a single into right field with two outs to keep the inning alive. Ramirez lined a double to right and Rogers hustled home to beat the throw.
Beloit (36-27) pulled to within a run in the top of the fifth inning on a two-out RBI single by Matt Koch. That was the only run allowed by Rattlers starting pitcher Chad Thompson. The tall right-hander struck out four over five innings before turning the ball over to Mark Williams in the sixth.
Koch tied the game in the seventh with a sacrifice fly, but the Rattlers had a great chance to retake the lead in their next turn at the plate.
Wisconsin loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and Rivera came to the plate to face Michael Tonkin, a Beloit reliever who had just come into the game. Rivera took a swing at the first pitch he saw from Tonkin and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The score stayed tied 2-2 until the bottom of the tenth. Chadwin Stang singled to start the inning against Clint Dempster, the fourth Beloit pitcher of the game. Brandon Macias was asked to bunt Stang over, but could the sacrifice was called off with a 3-2 count. Macias would reach and Stang went to second on an error to bring Rivera to the plate.
The Brewers shortstop prospect took a ball, then bunted the next two pitches from Dempster foul. Rivera got his shot at redemption with the bunt play off and he made the most of his chance by lining a home run over the left field wall. The homer, Rivera's seventh of the season, cut Wisconsin's magic number to clinch a playoff spot to one.
The Peoria Chiefs lowered the Rattlers magic number to zero by defeating the Kane County Cougars 4-1 Sunday afternoon in Peoria. The Rattlers have a seven game lead over the Cougars with seven games left in the half. The top two teams in the Western Division at the end of the first half will qualify for the playoffs. Wisconsin holds the tiebreaker over the Cougars.
Wisconsin pushed their lead over Beloit to four games with the win on Sunday. The Timber Rattlers still have some work to do to win the West.
The final game of the series is Monday afternoon at 12:05pm. David Goforth (5-4, 5.25) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Jason Wheeler (7-2, 3.39) is scheduled to start for Beloit.
Monday is also the final day of Miller Summer Kickoff at Time Warner Cable Field with $1 Miller products and ticket giveaways to Noah's Ark, Summerfest, Country USA, Rock USA, and the EAA Fly-In will be given away during all six games.
The weekday day game also means a Baker Tilly Business Persons Special. Show your business card when you purchase a ticket and for $11.50 you will receive a box seat ticket, a beverage and your choice of brat or hot dog. This special is also available to senior citizens.
As part of B104.7 Qdoba Q*Monday, fans may receive a free ticket to any Monday home game on the 2012 schedule when they purchase a lunch entrée at the Qdoba by the Fox River Mall tomorrow.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 11:45am. Monday's game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.TV.
Sports32 will televise Monday's game, too. The television broadcast will be available to subscribers of Time Warner Cable.
Yadiel Rivera (7th, 2 on in 10th inning off Clinton Dempster, 0 out)
WP: Mark Williams (4-4)
LP: Clinton Dempster (2-3)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.