DAVENPORT, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers claimed their sixth straight win with a 9-6 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits on Thursday night at Modern Woodmen Park. It was probably just a coincidence that Wisconsin broke open a tie game with four runs in the sixth inning. Offensively, Greg Hopkins led the way with four hits and three RBI and Yadiel Rivera cracked a huge home run. Reliever Tyler Cravy worked five innings in relief and struck out eight to get the win.
Hopkins put the Rattlers (30-17) in front with a two-out, RBI single in the top of the first inning.
Wisconsin barely got the ball out of the infield in the second inning, but managed to score three runs to push their lead to 4-0. The Rattlers loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, an infield single, and a bunt single. Max Walla's infield chopper was good enough to drive in the first run. Nick Ramirez hit a flyball to shallow left-center. Shortstop Matt Williams made a sliding catch with his back to the infield. That allowed John Dishon, the runner at third, to tag and score on the short fly out. Hopkins was next and his double plated the third run of the inning for a 4-0 lead.
Quad Cities (21-25) cut Wisconsin's lead in half when Juan Castillo doubled home two runs with two outs in the bottom of the third inning.
Hopkins struck again in the top of the fourth inning. His two-out RBI single knocked in Jason Rogers to give Wisconsin a 5-2 lead.
But, Rattlers starting pitcher Drew Gagnon scuffled through the bottom of the fourth and the River Bandits tied the game. Gagnon walked a pair of batters early in the inning and allowed an RBI single to Luis Mateo. Gagnon issued his third walk of the frame to load the bases. Then, Tyler Rahmatulla singled in a pair of runs to tie the game 5-5.
Wisconsin retook the lead in the sixth inning by scoring four runs and receiving a little help from the Quad Cities defense. Walla was at first with one out when Ramirez sent a grounder to short for what appeared to be an inning ending double play. But, the ball was booted and the inning continued with a single by Hopkins, his fourth hit of the night, to load the bases against reliever Willy Paulino and bring River to the plate.
Paulino's first pitch to Rivera went to the screen and Walla scored on the wild pitch to put the Rattlers in front. Paulino's next pitch was crushed over the left field wall by Rivera for a three-run homer and a 9-5 lead. Rivera's homer, his fifth of the season, extended his hitting streak to a ten games.
Cravy took over for Gagnon in the bottom of the fifth inning and struck out the side in order. He also struck out the side in the sixth after the Rattlers took the lead. Cravy pitched a perfect seventh and had to work around a couple of two out singles in the eighth, but maintained the four run cushion.
Rahmatulla hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out. But, Cravy dialed it up a bit and struck out the final two Quad Cities hitters to nail down the win.
The Rattlers maintained their two game lead in the Midwest League's Western Division over second place Beloit. The Snappers beat Cedar Rapids earlier in the day on Thursday.
On a historical note, Wisconsin is thirteen games over .500 for the first time since they ended the 2005 season 76-63.
Wisconsin wraps up the Quad Cities leg of their 13-day road trip on Friday night. Chad Thompson (1-1, 6.48) is the scheduled starting pitcher for Wisconsin. Dail Villanueva (3-2, 4.07) is set to start for the River Bandits. Game time is 7:00pm.
Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:40pm.
Yadiel Rivera (5th, 2 on in 6th inning off Willy Paulino, 1 out)
Tyler Rahmatulla (3rd, 0 on in 9th inning off Tyler Cravy, 1 out)
WP: Tyler Cravy (1-1)
LP: Willy Paulino (1-3)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.