PEORIA, IL - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers started defense of their Midwest League crown with an extra-inning victory over the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday night. Michael Reed scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eleventh inning to give the Rattlers a 5-4 win in the season opening game for both teams.
Tyrone Taylor and Orlando Arcia set the table for Wisconsin's first two runs in the top of the third. Taylor, who drew a four pitch walk to start the game, got aboard with an infield single in the third. Arcia followed with a double to right that hit the wall on one hop. Haniger followed with a line drive to right that carried over the head of the right fielder. Both Taylor and Arcia scored on the play to put the Rattlers up 2-0.
Peoria (0-1) got to Rattlers starting pitcher Tyler Wagner with a two out rally in the bottom of the fourth. David Washington doubled down the line at third. Jacob Wilson followed with a double to the gap in left-center to drive in Washington.
The Rattlers (1-0) got that run back in the top of the sixth inning. Clint Coulter started the inning with a walk. He tried to score from first on a double by Mike Garza but was thrown out at the plate. Garza took third on the throw home and the Chiefs decided to bring the infield in with Chris McFarland due to bat. McFarland spoiled the strategy by drilling a single through the middle of the diamond to drive in Garza for a 3-1 lead.
Tyler Wagner turned that lead over to the bullpen after he pitched a scoreless fifth inning. Wagner allowed one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Chiefs would rally to take the lead with two outs in the seventh inning against the bullpen. Reliever Mike Strong struck out the first two batters in the seventh inning, but issued a walk and gave up a single to the eighth and ninth place hitters in the order. That brought Michael Swinson to the plate and he singled to drive in a run to make the score 3-2. Strong looked like he would get out of the inning when he got Breyvic Valera to ground weakly back to the mound. But, Strong's throw to first was wild and two runs scored on the play to put the Chiefs up 4-3.
Wisconsin used a pair of defensive miscues in the top of the eighth to get the game back to even. Coulter singled to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Garza. McFarland's grounder to third went through the legs of the third baseman to let Coulter take third base. Then, the left fielder overran the ball to let Coulter race home with the tying run.
Wisconsin almost let the game get away in the eighth and ninth innings. Strong loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Taylor Wall came into the game and got an inning ending 6-4-3 double play from the first batter he faced. In the ninth, Wall retired the first two batters he faced. Then, he walked the next three batters to load the bases AND fell behind Jacob Wilson 3-0. Wall recovered to run the count full on Wilson and got him to fly out to the track in left field.
Reed started the Wisconsin eleventh inning by drawing a walk. Taylor dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Reed to second and a wild pitch with Orlando Arcia at the plate sent Reed to third. Arcia would send a slow chopper up the third baseline that was booted to let Reed score the go ahead run.
Austin Blaski, who pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth, worked a scoreless bottom of the eleventh to close out the Chiefs.
Game two of the four game series in Peoria is Friday night. Damien Magnifico is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Lefty Dail Villanueva is set to start for the Chiefs. Game time is 6:30pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.