GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Kane County Cougars traded comebacks in the late innings on Saturday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. It was the home team that got the last comeback as Wisconsin scored two runs in the bottom of the eleventh inning to defeat the Cougars 10-9.
Kane County (31-44 overall, 1-87 second half) went in front on a home run. Dan Vogelbach hit a 2-0 pitch from Rattlers starting pitcher Preston Gainey to the beach beyond the wall in right-center with two outs in the top of the third. Vogelbach's homer was his twelfth of the season.
Wisconsin (31-43, 2-7) responded in the bottom of the third. Adam Giacalone and Chris McFarland each singled with one out. Michael Reed was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Orlando Arcia got ahead in the count and drilled a double to left-center. All three runners scored and the Rattlers were up 3-1.
Mike Garza singled to start the Wisconsin fifth inning. He went to second on a grounder. A wild pitch sent him to third base. McFarland drove in Garza with a sacrifice fly.
Gainey gave up a single and a double to the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh. He got the first out of the inning with a popout to second. But, Oliver Zapata singled to drive in both runners to make the score 4-3.
Taylor Wall relieved Gainey and got out of the inning with a pickoff and a strikeout to keep the Rattlers up by a run.
Gainey made the longest start of his professional career with his 6-1/3 innings pitched on Saturday night. He walked one, struck out one and was in line for his third straight win.
Wisconsin added to their lead in the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit. Kane County reliever Dillon Maples walked Max Walla and Tyler Roberts to start the inning. Mike Garza bunted to move both runners up a base. A wild pitch with Giacalone at the plate let Walla score. A passed ball with McFarland at the plate let Roberts score for a 6-3 lead.
The Rattlers took that 6-3 lead to the top of the ninth inning, but could not hold it. Ryan Gibbard, who came on to work a scoreless eighth, hit the first batter of the ninth. The next two batters singled to load the bases. Zapata drew a walk on four pitches to force in a run. Kevin Encarnacion was next and his fly ball to left-center was deep enough to score the runner from third. However, Gioskar Amaya, the runner at second base, tagged to go to third. Tyrone Taylor's throw to third beat Amaya, but the tag appeared to be a bit high and the tying run made it to third base with one out.
Albert Almora knocked a grounder off the leg of Gibbard that turned into a 1-4-3 putout, but Amaya scored on the play to even the score 6-6.
Kane County went in front in the top of the tenth. Jeimer Candelario doubled and a fielder's choice on a sacrifice bunt by Marco Hernandez put runners on the corners with no outs. Carlos Escobar drove in Candelario with a sacrifice fly. Reggie Golden followed with a single. Then, Amaya drove in Hernandez with a single for an 8-6 advantage.
But, Wisconsin stormed back in the bottom of the tenth against Nathan Dorris. McFarland drew a leadoff walk. Reed tripled to right-center to send McFarland across the plate. One out later, Tyrone Taylor tied the game with a single to left. The single pushed Taylor's current hitting streak to thirteen games.
The Cougars took their turn in the top of the eleventh. Gibbard walked Encarnacion to start the inning. Almora sacrificed the go ahead run into scoring position with a bunt. Wisconsin went to the bullpen for lefty Mike Strong to face the left-handed hitting Vogelbach. A 2-2 pitch from Strong was lined to center by Vogelbach for an RBI single and a 9-8 lead for the Cougars. Strong struck out the next two batters to get the Wisconsin hitters back to the plate.
Garza started the rally with a one out single. Giacalone followed with another single to put runners at first and second. Wisconsin sent pinch-runners in for both runners on base. Adrian Williams went to second to replace Garza and Alfredo Rodriguez went to first to take over for Giacalone.
McFarland cracked the first pitch from Dorris inside the line at first base for a double that scored Williams with the tying run and sent Rodriguez to third with the winning run.
Reed was walked intentionally to load the bases and set the stage for a finish that was appropriate for the game.
Arcia stepped to the plate with the infield drawn in to cut down the run at the plate. He smacked a 2-2 pitch Amaya at second base. Amaya went home for the force on Rodriguez. Escobar caught the ball at the plate and tried for the double play with a throw to first. But, the throw was wild and went down the first base line. McFarland raced home with the winning run to end the game.
Game two of the series is Sunday afternoon. Leonard Lorenzo (1-4, 6.04) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Kane County sends Brian Smith (2-3, 2.70) to the mound. Game time is 1:05pm.
Sunday is Celebrate Faith Day at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. There will be a non-denominational service with player testimonials and music at 10:30am. After the game, contemporary Christian recording artist Danen Kane will perform on the new club level.
It's also a Brewers Sunday presented by 107.5, The Fan. Timber Rattlers players and coaches will be wearing Brewers-themed jerseys during the game.
Fans may play catch on the field before the game for thirty minutes starting at noon. Timber Rattlers players will be available for an autograph session on the third base concourse after the game.
Time Warner Cable customers can receive up to four half-priced reserved bleacher tickets when showing their TWC bill at time of ticket purchase.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 12:45pm.
Dan Vogelbach (12th, 0 on in 3rd inning off Preston Gainey, 2 out)
WP: Mike Strong (1-2)
LP: Nathan Dorris (2-3)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.