GRAND CHUTE, WI - On Saturday night, it was Rafael Neda's turn at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers catcher drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the tenth inning to beat the Peoria Chiefs 8-7. Neda also hit his first professional homer in the game to help the Rattlers come back to win their fourth straight game.
Wisconsin (48-29 overall, 4-4 second half) scored a run in the bottom of the first inning on the first of four Peoria errors.
The Chiefs (38-39, 3-5) took the lead in the top of the third inning by sending ten men to the plate against Wisconsin starting pitcher David Goforth. They scored six runs on five hits and three Wisconsin errors. Pin-Chieh Chen completed a streak of three straight singles to start the inning and drove in the tying run. Zeke DeVoss dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runners along, but the throw to first by Goforth was wild to allow a run to score. Next, Taiwan Easterling's grounder to third base was mishandled for an error and Chen scored for a 3-1 lead.
That play also put runners on first and third with no outs. Easterling would steal second and the throw skipped to past second to let DeVoss score. Later in the inning, Paul Hoilman and Anthony Giansanti had RBI singles for a 6-1 lead.
It didn't take long for Wisconsin to rally. Nick Ramirez started the comeback with a single to start the fourth. Then, Ben McMahan hit a two-run homer into the Timber Rattlers bullpen. Yadiel Rivera reached on an error to bring Neda to the plate. Neda lined a 2-2 pitch down the left field line. The ball stayed fair and Wisconsin pulled to within 6-5.
Carlos George kept the pressure on with a bunt and reached on an error. Lance Roenicke followed with a double to move George to third. Chadwin Stang tied the game at six with a sacrifice fly.
Goforth settled in after his rough third inning to work two more scoreless innings. He did have to pitch his way out of a jam in the sixth. Javier Baez tripled to start the inning, but Goforth got a strikeout and - after Yasiel Balaguert reached on a fielder's choice that kept Baez at third base - an inning ending double play to keep the game tied.
Peoria would go in front in the seventh inning. Stephen Peterson allowed a run on a two-out wild pitch that let DeVoss score from third for a 7-6 lead.
Ramirez brought the Rattlers back in the eighth. Wisconsin's first baseman hit a long home run down the right field line to lead off the inning. The blast came against Yao-Lin Wang, the Peoria closer. Wang has ten saves this season and has blown two saves. Both blown saves are against Wisconsin.
Rattlers closer Tommy Toledo pitched a perfect ninth and a perfect tenth to set up Wisconsin's eight walkoff hit of the season. Greg Hopkins singled to start the rally against Luis Liria. A wild pitch got Hopkins to second, but Liria retired Ramirez with a strikeout. The Chiefs elected to walk McMahan intentionally to set up the double play, but Yadiel Rivera worked the count full and drew a walk to load the bases after falling behind 1-2.
Then, Neda lined a 2-2 pitch from Liria through the left side of the infield to drive home Hopkins with the winning run.
The final game of the three game series is Saturday night. Mark Williams (4-6, 2.57) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Rattlers. Peoria will counter with Zach Cates (0-1, 1.93). Game time is 6:35pm.
REGGY!, the purple party dude returns to the Fox Cities to entertain with his skits and in-game antics. The first 1,000 fans to attend this game will receive a poster of Timber Rattlers All-Star Greg Hopkins. It's also a Fly Away Saturday and one lucky fan will win airfare for two from Funjet Vacations and Fox World Travel at this game! There is also a postgame fireworks display from Fox 11 scheduled on Saturday.
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 6:15pm. MiLB.TV subscribers may also watch the game.
Ben McMahan (6th, 1 on in 4th inning off Michael Jensen, 0 out)
Rafael Neda (1st, 1 on in 4th inning off Michael Jensen, 0 out)
Nick Ramirez (5th, 0 on in 8th inning off Yoa-Lin Wang, 0 out)
WP: Tommy Toledo (7-0)
LP: Luis Liria (1-3)