BURLINGTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were up by three runs heading into the bottom of the eighth inning at Community Field on Sunday afternoon. Then, the Burlington Bees rallied to tie the game with a run in the eighth and two in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. Zach Wright cracked a game-ending grand slam in the bottom of the fourteenth to give the Bees a 9-5 win. Wright went 4-for-5 and drove in six runs to help the Bees to their comeback victory.
Michael Reed started the Rattlers (59-75 overall, 30-39 second half) off with a one out triple in the first inning. Parker Berberet followed with an RBI double to drive in Reed. Berberet was out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
The triple by Reed was his twelfth of the season. It tied him with Jamie Bubela on the franchise single season triples list for second place. Bubela hit twelve triples in the 2001 season.
Burlington (55-78, 29-39) had two outs and none on in the bottom of the second inning. Wisconsin starter Jorge Lopez walked the next two batters and allowed an infield single to load the bases. Lopez uncorked a wild pitch to let the tying run score.
Wisconsin broke the tie with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Dustin Houle walked and Chris McFarland singled on a bunt to start the inning. Tyrone Taylor's sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Reed was next and his sinking line drive to center dropped in for a hit and skipped past Chevy Clarke, who tried to make a diving catch. Reed cruised into third with a two-run triple.
Reed's scored triple of the game tied him with Jermaine Clark for the franchise record for triples in a season. Clark had thirteen triples in 1998.
Houle added to the Wisconsin lead with an RBI double in the top of the sixth inning for a 4-1 lead.
The Bees tallied an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth inning against reliever Hobbs Johnson. Angel Rosa reached second on an error and stole third base. He scored on a two-out single by Wright.
The Rattlers got that run back in the top of the eighth. Victor Roache doubled to start the frame. He took third on a grounder to the right side off the bat of Garrett Cooper. A passed ball let Roache score and the Rattlers were up 5-2.
Taylor Wall took over for Johnson to start the bottom of the eighth inning. Wall had not allowed a run in any of his seven appearance totaling twelve innings during August. He allowed a single to Wade Hinkle to start the eighth and an error on the play let Hinkle take second base. A sacrifice bunt moved Hinkle to third. Wright drove in Hinkle with a sacrifice fly.
McFarland started the Timber Rattlers ninth with a single. He stole second and went to third on a throwing error. But, McFarland was left stranded at third base when the inning ended. That would cost the Rattlers.
Chevy Clarke doubled to lead off the Burlington ninth. He was at third base with two outs after a pair of grounders. Sandy Martinez drove in Clarke with a single to left to cut the Wisconsin lead to a run. Wall got ahead of Rosa 0-2 and was a strike away from nailing down a win. But, Rosa hit a high chopper to the left of the mound and the ball trickled off the glove of Wall for an infield single to keep the Bees alive. Hinkle made the Rattlers pay with a single to left that scored Martinez from second to tie the game 5-5.
Burlington had the winning run at second with one out in the bottom of the tenth inning. But, McFarland made a leaping grab of a line drive off Clarke's bat for the second out. The Rattlers would escape the tenth with the game still tied.
Wisconsin had a chance in the top of the eleventh inning. Alfredo Rodriguez singled and Houle walked with one out. But, the Bees keep got a force play and a popup to keep the score at 5-5.
The score remained tied with neither team getting a hit in the twelfth and thirteenth inning. Wisconsin's batters went down in order in the top of the fourteenth and the Bees came to the plate after the second playing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
Rattlers reliever Jono Armold came out for his fourth inning of work in the bottom of the fourteenth. He had struck out five and walked one in his first three innings. But, Rosa tripled off the wall in right to start the Bees rally. Wisconsin elected to walk the next two batters intentionally to set up a force play at the plate. Additionally, the Timber Rattlers sent Adrian Williams into the game for Tyrone Taylor in center. They brought Williams in to play in front of second base as a fifth infielder with Wright at the plate.
Wright foiled all of the strategy by crushing a 1-0 pitch from Armold over the wall in left for a walkoff grand slam.
Wisconsin had been 43-1 when leading a game heading into the ninth inning this season before Sunday's game. The loss was their fifth in a row.
The final game of Wisconsin's 2013 season is Monday afternoon at Community Field. Austin Ross (2-0, 2.58) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Chris O'Grady (3-1, 2.27) is set to start for the Bees. Game time is 2:00pm. The broadcast may be heard on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 1:40pm.
Zach Wright (4th, Grand slam off Jono Armold in 14th inning, 0 out)
WP: Joseph Krehbiel (6-5)
LP: Jono Armold (4-3)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.