FORT WAYNE, IN - Nick Ramirez had one hit on Sunday at Parkview Field. But, it was a hit that helped the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers claim their first Midwest League Championship. His 2-run double in the seventh inning snapped a 2-2 tie and propelled the Rattlers to a 4-2 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps in Game Four of the Midwest League Championship Series. Wisconsin won the series three games to one.
Wisconsin got out to a very fast start. Brandon Macias doubled on the first pitch of the game and Chadwin Stang sent Macias home with a single for a 1-0 lead two batters into the game.
Max Walla hit a solo home run with two outs in the second inning for a 2-0 lead.
Timber Rattlers starting pitcher Chad Thompson hit a spot of trouble in the third inning. A single and a walk with one out brought Yeison Asencio to the plate. The regular season batting champion blooped a double to right to score the first Fort Wayne run. A sacrifice fly by Travis Whitmore tied the game 2-2.
TinCaps starter James Needy settled in after the second inning and kept the Rattlers off the scoreboard. That included an jam in the sixth inning where the Rattlers had runners at second and third with no outs, but could not score.
The score changed in the seventh as the TinCaps went to the bullpen. Macias started the inning with a double off Luis De La Cruz. A sacrifice bunt and a walk put runners at the corners with one out. Fort Wayne went back to the bullpen to bring in lefty Brandon Alger to face the left-handed Ramirez.
Ramirez, who lead Wisconsin in homers and RBI during the regular season and the playoffs, fell behind Alger 0-2. The Rattlers first baseman fouled off one two-strike pitch. Then, Alger left one over the plate and cracked a double to the wall in right. Both Macias and McMahan scored on the play for a 4-2 lead. Ramirez drove in ten runs during the nine postseason games for the Timber Rattlers. That included four in the Championship Series.
Thompson, like Needy, settled in after his early troubles. He allowed just one base runner after the double by Asencio in the third.
Brent Suter, a 31st round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers out of Harvard in the 2012 draft, relieved Thompson to start the bottom of the seventh. The Rattlers left-hander started mowing down TinCaps and didn't stop until the championship was won.
Suter retired the side in order in the seventh and the eighth. He retired Asencio for the first out of the ninth on a grounder to short. Suter got Whitmore to swing and miss at strike three for the second out. The pennant-clinching out came as Suter caught Lee Orr looking at a 2-2 pitch for strike three.
The pennant is the first for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The last Midwest League Championship by an Appleton Professional Baseball team was won in 1984 by the Appleton Foxes. The Foxes joined the Midwest League in 1962 and won eight pennants (1964, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1978, 1982, 1983, & 1984). Now, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have a pennant of their own to fly over Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Max Walla (1st, 2nd inning off James Needy, 2 out)
WP: Chad Thompson (2-0)
LP: Luis De La Cruz (1-2)
SAVE: Brent Suter (1)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.