GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Burlington Bees were in familiar territory on Thursday night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. It was late in a close game before the Timber Rattlers picked up a 5-4 victory on an eleventh inning sacrifice fly by KJ Harrison. The win allowed the Rattlers to creep a little closer in the Western Division's Second Half Wild Card race.
Burlington (44-68 overall, 14-29 second half) went in front in the top of the third inning with two runs. Leonardo Rivas and Kevin Williams had RBI singles in the inning. The Bees had runners on first and third with one out, but Wisconsin starting pitcher Aaron Ashby limited the damage with an inning-ending double play.
Those were the only runs Ashby allowed in the game. The left-hander scattered seven hits, walked one, and struck out six over five innings. He left the game with a chance for the win after the Rattlers rallied in the fourth inning.
Eddie Silva started the Wisconsin fourth with a single. He stole second, but was still on the bases with two outs and Bees starter Denny Brady was cruising. However, he hit Chad McClanahan and walked Zach Clark to load the bases. Gilbert Lara followed with a sinking line drive to center that bounced over Torii Hunter, who tried to make a diving catch. All three runners scored on the double by Lara and the Rattlers (54-61, 23-23) were up 3-2.
The Bees nearly tied the game in the seventh as they loaded the bases with one out against Sal Biasi. Matt Hardy took over for Biasi and Williams hit a liner to shallow center. Clark made the catch and threw a strike to the plate to get the runner who tagged and tried to score from third for an inning-ending double play.
Burlington did tie the game in the eighth. Spencer Griffin tripled to start the inning. Hardy walked the next batter and Tim Millard grounded into a force play at second to drive in Griffin.
The game remained tied through nine innings and the teams went to the tenth inning where they traded runs.
Griffin was at third with two outs and scored the go-ahead run for the Bees on a wild pitch by reliever Clayton Andrews.
The Rattlers evened the score again in the bottom of the tenth inning. Gabriel García bunted Zach Clark to third to start the frame. Payton Henry's soft liner to short was almost caught, but the ball trickled free and Clark scored the tying run.
Andrews, who had pitched an inning on Wednesday night, came back out for his second inning of work on Thursday with Griffin starting the frame at second base. The Rattlers got the first out when García made a diving catch on a line drive bunt attempt. However, Andrews hit the next two batters to load the bases. Andrews escaped the inning with a strikeout and a grounder to second to keep the game tied. The Bees left the bases loaded in the eleventh and stranded a total of 15 runners in the game while going 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position.
Tristen Lutz nearly won the game on the third pitch of the bottom of the eleventh inning. The Wisconsin outfielder sent a high fly to right-center that dropped in for a double, but Silva, who started the inning at second, went back to tag up in case of a catch and could only make third base before the ball was on the way back to the infield.
Harrison won the game for the Rattlers when his line drive deep to left was missed for an error to allow Silva to score the winning run on what was ruled a sacrifice fly.
The Timber Rattlers are 6-4 in ten games against the Bees this season. All six of Wisconsin's wins have been by one run with four of the wins being walkoff victories in extra innings.
Wisconsin's victory got them to the .500 mark in the second half for the first time. It also allowed Wisconsin to pick up a half game on the Beloit Snappers in the second half Western Division Wild Card standings. The Snappers were rained out on Thursday night and that allowed the Rattlers to pull to within four games of the Snappers. The Rattlers have 24 games left in the regular season, including seven with the Snappers.
The final game of the series is Friday night. Wilfred Salaman (0-1, 6.75) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Oliver Ortega (3-5, 3.81) is set to start for the Bees. Game time is 7:05pm.
Friday is a night for royalty as the Timber Rattlers and North Shore Bank invite your princess to meet Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Tiana, Elena of Avalor and Snow White! The first 500 children (ages 12 & under) will receive a tiara. Special Memories Petting Zoo will have a fun display outside the stadium before the game.
Arty's Old Fashioned drinks will be available to fans 21 and over for $3 on an Arty's Old Fashioned Friday. Stick around after the game to enjoy a FOX11 postgame fireworks display. Children 14 and under may participate in Kids Run the Bases thanks to Menasha Corporation after the fireworks display.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, there are many ways to catch the action. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Pregame Show at 6:45pm. The broadcast is also available on the Tune In and IHeart Radio apps. Subscribers to MiLB.tv can watch the game over the internet.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.