Wisconsin Timber Rattlers first baseman David Fry knocked in the first run of the game, the last run of the game, and made the play to end the game on Thursday night at Northwestern Medicine Field. A lot happened in between but the end result was a 5-4 win in twelve innings for the Rattlers over the playoff-contending Kane County Cougars.
Wisconsin (28-30) scored in the first inning for the third game in a row. Jesús Lujano and Chad McClanahan drew back-to-back walks with one out. Fry followed with a single to left to drive in Lujano and the Rattlers were up 1-0.
Korry Howell started the top of the second inning with a single. He went to second on a wild pitch. Kane County starting pitcher Levi Kelly threw another wild pitch and the ball took a weird kick off the backstop and that allowed Howell to score all the way from second for a 2-0 lead.
The Cougars (31-28) got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Wisconsin starter Logan Gillaspie hit Joe Gillette to start the inning and give the Cougars their first base runner. Eduardo Diaz got Gillette home with a two-run double to the corner in left.
Kekai Rios put the Rattlers back up by two runs with an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning.
Gillaspie retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth, but ran into trouble when Zac Almond singled and Geraldo Perdomo walked to bring Gillette back to the plate.
Gillette lined a 3-2 pitch to left for a single to score Almond from second. Perdomo was heading for third base and left-fielder Chad McClanahan came up throwing to try and get the out at third. But, no one was covering the base and the ball rattled around in foul territory. That allowed Perdomo to score the tying run and Gillette to take third base.
Daniel Wasinger put the Cougars up with a single to score Gillette and that knocked Gillaspie out of the game. The Wisconsin bullpen kept the Cougars in check as they pitched 8-1/3 scoreless innings.
Wisconsin rallied to tie the game in the ninth. Rios drew a lead-off walk to start the inning and was replaced by pinch-runner Antonio Piñero. A wild pitch moved Piñero to second and a ground out by Je’Von Ward got Piñero to third base with one out. Kane County went to the bullpen to bring Kai-Wen Lin into the game.
Lin got the second out, but Jesús Lujano lined a single to center and Piñero scored the tying run.
The game went to extra innings and the Rattlers had a great chance to take the lead against Lin. Fry started the tenth at second base and a wild pitch, the fifth of the night by Kane County pitchers, allowed Fry to go to third. Struck out the next two batters, but walked Howell. A popout to right ended the inning.
Chad Whitmer entered the game in the bottom of the tenth inning got a couple of popouts and a strikeout to keep the game even.
Neither team could do anything with good opportunities in the eleventh. The Rattlers had two on with no out, but an attempted sacrifice bunt turned into a force play at third and the next batter grounded into a double play. The Cougars had a bunt single by Perdomo that would have put runners at the corners with no outs, but he tried to stretch the play into a double and was out at second. Whitmer escaped the inning with the game still tied.
Fry put Wisconsin in front in the top of the twelfth. Lujano started the inning at second and moved to third on a ground out by Chad McClanahan. Fry was next and his deep fly to the track in left got Lujano home with the go-ahead run.
Whitmer’s work wasn’t done. The Cougars placed pinch-runner Keshawn Lynch at second to start the twelfth. He retired the first two batters on a strikeout and a shallow fly to center. Eddie Hernandez was the last chance for Kane County and the face-off between he and Whitmer went eleven pitches.
The game ended when Hernandez hit a sharp grounder to Gabriel García at third. The throw to first was low, but Fry made the scoop at first to record the final out.
Whitmer pitched all three extra innings and did not allow a run despite each inning starting with a runner at second base and no outs. Whitmer struck out three in the game. Five Wisconsin pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts in the game.
Wisconsin won two out of three games in the series from the Cougars with Thursday’s victory.
The Timber Rattlers return home to start a series with the Beloit Snappers on Friday night with a special start time. Wisconsin and Beloit will resume a game that was halted by rain in the fourth inning at Pohlman Field on April 17 with the Snappers leading 3-2. The restart time of this game will be 5:05pm.
The regularly-scheduled game is set for seven innings and will start no earlier than 7:05pm. Wilfred Salaman (3-3, 6.59) is expected to make the start for Wisconsin. Reid Birlingmair (2-1, 3.06) is set to start for the Snappers.