GRAND CHUTE, WI - The chances were there for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Saturday night against the Kane County Cougars. But, the Cougars were the team that cashed in for the 5-3 victory at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The loss also cost Wisconsin a chance to pick up ground in the Western Division Wild Card race.
Opportunity knocked for the Timber Rattlers (56-70 overall, 27-34 second half) in the bottom of the second inning. But, they could not score despite three consecutive hits to start the inning. Victor Roache started the inning with a ground rule double to center. Mike Garza followed with a single up the middle and Roache tried to score. The throw home from Oliver Zapata was in time to get Roache for the first out. Parker Berberet was at the plate when a pitch trickled away from Kane County catcher Wilson Contreras. Garza took off for second and got hung up between first and second as Contreras quickly recovered the baseball. Garza was tagged up in the rundown for the second out. Berberet, who had three hits in the game, singled later in the at bat for Wisconsin's third straight hit. Kane County starting pitcher Tayler Scott got the next batter on a grounder to first to end the inning.
The Cougars (52-74, 22-38) took the lead in the next half inning. Trevor Gretzky tripled with one out in the top of the third inning. Gioskar Amaya got Gretzky home with a sacrifice fly and the Cougars led 1-0. That was the only run Preston Gainey gave up in his five innings of work.
The Rattlers got going offensively in the bottom of the fifth inning. Berberet singled and Max Walla walked to start the frame. The Cougars were expecting Orlando Arcia to bunt, but the Wisconsin shortstop chopped a single over the head of the third baseman to load the bases. Alfredo Rodriguez was at the plate when a passed ball let Berberet score to tie the game. Rodriguez put the Rattlers up 3-1 with a two-run double.
The Cougars went back in front in the top of the seventh inning against reliever Ryan Gibbard. Jose Dore started the inning with a triple to right. Brad Zapenas drove in Dore with a sacrifice fly to cut Wisconsin's lead to a single run.
Kane County had a runner at first with two outs after a single and a force out at second base. Zapata stepped in and tripled to knock in the runner from first to tie the game. Then, Jeimer Candelario followed with a single to right against Gibbard to give Kane County a 4-3 lead.
Giuseppe Papaccio extended Kane County's advantage to 5-3 with a solo home run in the eighth inning off Ryan Fasano.
Wisconsin attempted to stage a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Stephen Perakslis. Alfredo Rodriguez singled with one out and Michael Reed drew a walk to bring the winning run to the plate. But, Perakslis got the final two outs of the game with a strikeout and a popup to deal a serious blow to the Rattlers playoff chances.
The Rattlers had an opportunity to gain a game on the Clinton LumberKings, the second half Wild Card leaders. Clinton lost 7-4 at Beloit. But, Wisconsin's loss keeps them four games behind Clinton with nine games remaining in the regular season.
Game two of the series is Sunday afternoon. Rodolfo Fernandez (3-3, 2.63) is the scheduled starting pitcher for Wisconsin. Kane County sends Starling Peralta (2-1, 4.63) to the mound. Game time is 1:05pm.
Sunday is a full day at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. McClone Insurance and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are holding their annual Strike Out Cancer Day. A portion of each ticket bought at the Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium Box Office on Sunday will aid families in Northeast Wisconsin who are battling pediatric cancer. Shear Chaos Salon will be at the park to cut hair for Locks of Love, too.
Fans may play catch on the field for thirty minutes starting at noon and Timber Rattlers players will be available for an autograph session on the third base concourse after the game.
Also, Time Warner Cable customers can receive up to four half-priced reserved bleacher tickets when showing their TWC bill at time of ticket purchase.
Sunday is the final Brewers Sunday presented by 107.5, The Fan. Timber Rattlers players and coaches will be wearing their Brewers-themed jerseys during the game for the final time this season. Jerseys will be up for bid in a live auction after the game. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 12:40pm. Sunday's game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.TV.
Giuseppe Papaccio (2nd, 0 on in 8th inning off Ryan Fasano, 0 out)
WP: Tayler Scott (6-8)
LP: Ryan Gibbard (4-6)
SAVE: Stephen Perakslis (7)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.