DAVENPORT, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers scored five times in the top of the ninth inning to defeat the Quad Cities River Bandits 5-3 on Friday night at Modern Woodmen Park. Steve Halcomb's two-out, two-run double broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Rattlers to the win. Preston Gainey struck out ten over seven innings for the Timber Rattlers.
Wisconsin (45-39 overall, 9-6 second half) had a shot to score first. Johnny Davis started the game with a walk and Chris McFarland followed with a single. Michael Ratterree's chopper to short was fielded by Dayne Parker, who threw to third. It appeared that Bandits third baseman Marc Wik caught the ball in foul territory off the bag and missed the bag as he stepped to it for the force out. Davis and Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson were unhappy when Davis was ruled out by the base umpire who was positioned on the infield grass with a tough angle to see whether Wik got the base or not.
Clint Coulter continued the inning against River Bandits starter Adrian Houser with a single to shallow right to load the bases with one out. But, Houser escaped the inning with a strikeout and a force play at second. The hit by Coulter was the last hit Wisconsin would get until the ninth.
Houser allowed one more runner, a two-out hit batsman on Rafael Neda in the fourth, over his final five innings of work.
Jose Fernandez broke the scoreless tie with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. Brett Phillips started the inning by reaching on an error. Gainey got the next two outs. Then, Fernandez homered to the left field berm and the River Bandits (43-41, 8-7) were up 2-0.
Gainey went seven innings, allowed two hits, and walked four. He allowed those two unearned runs, but set a new single game high for strikeouts in a game as a professional with his ten punchouts. However, it appeared he was headed for his third straight loss.
Tyler Brunnemann relieved Houser in the seventh and worked two perfect innings to maintain the 2-0 lead.
Quad Cities went to Frederick Tiburcio to close out the game in the ninth. McFarland singled back up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to start the inning for the first Wisconsin hit since the first inning. Ratterree and Coulter walked to load the bases. Brennan's sacrifice fly to right was deep enough to score McFarland. Ratterree tagged and went to third. Coulter saw the throw going through to third and he took second base. Rafael Neda walked to reload the bases and that was all for Tiburcio.
Andrew Walter took over on the mound and faced Omar Garcia first. Garcia lined an 0-1 pitch that looked like a sure hit to right-center. Fernandez made a leaping grab and got the ball in his glove for a moment. The ball popped free and rolled towards second.
Coulter held the base to make sure the line drive got through, but took off for third when the ball dropped out of the glove of Fernandez. The Bandits second baseman corralled the ball and stepped on second for the force play on Neda. His throw to first was late to get Garcia. The throw to third by first baseman Jon Kemmer was too late to get Coulter for the third out. Since the River Bandits could not turn the game-ending double play on the sequence, Ratterree scored the tying run from third.
Garcia stole second to get into scoring position with Steve Halcomb at the plate. Then, Halcomb drilled a hanging 1-2 pitch down the line in left for a double that scored both Coulter and Garcia to put the Rattlers up 4-2.
Angel Ortega followed with an RBI single to score Halcomb and the Rattlers were up 5-2.
Tyler Spurlin, who took over for Gainey to start the eighth, went back out for the bottom of the ninth and allowed a double to Ronnie Mitchell. Brian Holberton singled with one out to knock in Mitchell to cut Wisconsin's lead to two runs. Spurlin got Kemmer to fly out to left for the second out and struck out pinch-hitter Brett Booth to close out the River Bandits.
Friday was the second time the Timber Rattlers have won a game when trailing heading into the ninth inning this season.
The series continues on Saturday night at Modern Woodmen Park. Anthony Banda (4-5, 4.40) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Quad Cities will counter with Chris Lee (3-5, 4.27). Game time is 6:00pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 5:40pm. The game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.TV.
Jose Fernandez (2nd, 1 on in 4th inning off Preston Gainey, 2 out)
WP: Tyler Spurlin (3-0)
LP: Frederick Tiburcio (1-2)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.