CLINTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were down to their last out on Saturday night at Ashford University Field against the Clinton LumberKings. Gabriel García stepped to the plate with one on in the top of the ninth with the Rattlers trailing 4-3 and cracked a two-run home run to deep left-center to turn the game around and give the Rattlers a 5-4 victory.
The LumberKings (66-66 overall, 27-35 second half) took a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Johnny Adams drove in Ariel Sandoval with a one-out double and took third on the throw home. Wisconsin starting pitcher Wilfred Salaman hit the next batter. Salaman got Connor Hoover to hit a slow grounder to short, but the Rattlers could not turn two on the play and Adams scored from third for the second run of the frame.
Clinton added to their lead in the bottom of the third with a two-out rally. Onil Pena doubled with two outs. Sandoval was next and he singled to right to score Pena for the 3-0 advantage.
The Rattlers (63-68, 32-30) rallied to within a run in the top of the fourth. Tristen Lutz drew a walk and stole second to start the inning. Eddie Silva followed with a long homer to left-center. The blast was Silva's third home run with Wisconsin.
Lutz tied the game in the top of the fifth inning. Jay Feliciano started the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Zach Clark had a single with one out to put two runners on base. A wild pitch with two outs moved both runners into scoring position. Then, Lutz sent a grounder up the middle. Adams, the shortstop, made a great stop in short center, but Lutz beat the throw to first to score Feliciano with the tying run.
Wisconsin had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth inning. Lutz drew a walk with one out. He stole second and went to third on a wild throw to second, but he was left stranded.
Clinton not only had a chance to take the lead in their half of the inning, they did go up on Wisconsin. JT Hintzen walked Ojeda to start the inning and gave up a single to Sandoval. Hintzen got the first out of the inning on a strikeout and had two strikes on Juan Camacho, but the Clinton catcher cracked a double to the gap in left-center to drive in Ojeda for a 4-3 lead.
Kyle Wilcox, who had entered the game in the top of the eighth inning, went back out for the ninth and walked Payton Henry with one out. Henry was replaced by pinch-runner Chad McClanahan. Then, Wilcox struck out the next batter for the second out.
García, who had been mired in an 0-for-18 slump, took the first two pitches from Wilcox for balls. He got a fat 2-0 pitch and he didn't miss it. García's hit left the ballpark to the right of the scoreboard in left-center for a two-run homer and the Wisconsin dugout exploded in cheers and McClanahan and García circled the bases.
Hintzen came back out for the bottom of the ninth. He struck out the first two batters of the inning. The final out - appropriately - was a grounder to García at first. He fielded the ball and stepped on first to put an end to the game.
In the second half Western Division Wild Card race, Kane County, the Wild Card leaders, lost 6-2 at Cedar Rapids. Beloit, who had entered the day one game behind Kane County, won 5-3 at Peoria. That means Kane County and Beloit are both tied for the Wild Card with identical records of 33-28. Wisconsin trails both teams by 1-1/2 games. There are eight games left in the regular season.
Game three of the series is Sunday afternoon at Ashford University Field. Nelson Hernández (10-10, 4.97) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton has named Ryne Inman (4-10, 4.75) as their starter. Game time is 2:00pm. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Pregame Show at 1:40pm. The broadcast is also available on the Tune In and IHeart Radio apps.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.