GRAND CHUTE, WI - Things looked bleak for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Wednesday Night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. They trailed the Quad Cities River Bandits 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. But with two on base and one out, Eddie Silva cracked a three-run, walkoff home run and the Rattlers won 6-5.
Tristen Lutz gave the Rattlers (61-67 overall, 30-29 second half) the lead with a long, solo home run to left-center with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. Lutz's thirteenth homer of the season banged off the top of the scoreboard.
Quad Cities (73-56, 33-26) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth inning, but starting pitcher Scott Sunitsch escaped when he got Michael Papierski to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Wisconsin added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Gilbert Lara singled with one out and was still at first with two outs. Zach Clark cracked a triple off the wall in right on a 3-2 pitch and Lara scored easily for a 2-0 advantage.
The River Bandits scored an unearned run against Sunitsch in the fifth inning. A hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a flyout to center was enough to get Trey Dawson around to third base. Sunitsch got the next batter to pop up to short right, but Silva, the Wisconsin second baseman, dropped the ball and Dawson scored.
The Rattlers went back up by two runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally. KJ Harrison reached on an error and the next two batters walked. Lara, who had three hits in the game, singled up the middle to score Harrison and the Rattlers were up 3-1.
Quad Cities cut into the Wisconsin lead with a run off reliever Carlos Herrera in the top of the sixth. Papierski singled with runners at first and second to drive in David Hensley and send Miguelangel Sierra to third with the tying run. Trey Dawson was next and he sent a line drive to center. Sierra tagged as Clark made the catch to try to tie the game, but Clark threw a one-hop strike to the plate to catch Sierra for the final out and keep the Rattlers up by one run.
The good feeling did not last.
Herrera hit the first batter, walked the second batter, and gave up a single to the third batter in the top of the seventh to load the bases. Clayton Andrews was called in from the Wisconsin bullpen to relieve Herrera, but he allowed a single to Jonathan Lacroix that scored a run to tie the game.
Hensley and Alfredo Angarita followed with sacrifice flies to score the other inherited runners and the River Bandits had a 5-3 lead.
Wisconsin's hitters were set down in order in the seventh by Tim Hardy and in the eighth by Willy Collado and things did not look good.
The bad feeling did not last.
Collado, who had not allowed an earned run since June 29 - a span covering 22 innings over thirteen appearances - gave up a leadoff single to Clark in the bottom of the ninth. Lutz singled with one out to bring Silva to the plate.
Silva took the first pitch for a strike. He sent the next pitch on a line drive down the line in left that cleared the wall for the walkoff homer. This was the tenth walkoff victory for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Ronnie Gideon had the last walkoff home run by a Timber Rattlers was on August 24, 2017.
In the second half Western Division Wild Card race, Kane County beat Peoria 8-6 and Beloit lost 7-2 to Cedar Rapids. Kane County moved their lead over Beloit to 1-1/2 games. The Rattlers miraculous win kept them 3-1/2 games behind the Cougars. Wisconsin has eleven games remaining in the season.
The final game of the series - and Wisconsin's homestand - is Thursday night. Dylan File (7-9, 4.32) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Leovanny Rodriguez (4-6, 4.08) is set to start for Quad Cities. Game time is 7:05pm.
The first 1,000 fans to attend the game will receive a Fang T. Rattler coin bank courtesy of Unison Credit Union.
The Timber Rattlers will also partner with Minor League Baseball and Allegiant to give one lucky fan a chance to win a $500 voucher from Allegiant.
Fans of legal drinking age may enjoy 12-ounce craft beers for $2. Cher-Make brats are also just $2 and they are available for everyone. Beers from Fox River Brewing Company, Badger Club Amber, and many, many more will be available on a Craft Brews & Brats Thursday with 105.7, WAPL.
Also, the Timber Rattlers Concert Series continues with Open Tab performing for 90 minutes in the Fox Club starting at the end of the seventh inning.
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. Spectrum Sports will televise the game starting at 7:00pm. 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.