The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers scored three runs on one hit in the top of the ninth inning to rally past the Kane County Cougars on Thursday night at Northwestern Medicine Field. Wisconsin’s 4-3 victory snapped a three-game losing streak and pulled them to within a game of the Cougars at the top of the second half Western Division standings.
Wisconsin (40-43 overall, 9-5 second half) took the early lead. David Fry doubled and Jesús Lujano singled to put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the first. Connor McVey was next and he dropped a bunt up the first line. McVey was out, but Fry scored on the safety squeeze and the Rattlers had a 1-0 lead.
Wisconsin starter Adam Hill was in trouble in the third inning as the first two Kane County batters of the frame reached base. He got out of the jam with a double play and a strikeout.
The Cougars (45-38, 10-4) loaded the bases with no outs against Hill in the fourth inning on two hits and a hit batsman. Hill limited the damage and allowed just one run. He got a 4-3 double play that scored a run and made a nice play on a drag bunt up the first base line to get the final out.
The Timber Rattlers offense went silent against Cougars starting pitcher Matt Tabor after a one-out single by Je’Von Ward in the second inning. Tabor retired the final fourteen batters he faced.
Hill left after five innings and 89 pitches for Wisconsin. He allowed one run on three hits with two walks, two hit batsmen, and five strikeouts.
Jose Herrera put Kane County up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth when he lined a solo homer to right-center.
Wisconsin reliever Tyler Gillies, gave up the homer and it was the first one he had allowed in 31 innings this season. The home run also snapped his scoreless streak at eleven innings. Gillies had not allowed a run since June 4 when he gave up three runs to the Cougars at Northwestern Medicine Field.
The Rattlers threatened to tie the game in the seventh and eighth innings against reliever Chester Pimentel. In the seventh, Chad McClanahan walked with one out and Ward singled with two outs to put runners at the corners, but Pimentel got a strike out to end the threat. In the ninth, Yeison Coca reached on an error to start the inning, but he was erased on a strike-‘em out, throw-‘em out double play.
Eduardo Diaz gave the Cougars an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when he drilled an 0-2 pitch from Victor Castaneda over the wall in left for a lead-off homer and a 3-1 advantage. The insurance run would not hold up for Kane County.
Wisconsin got to Pimentel in the ninth as Lujano singled and McVey walked. Pimentel got the first out of the inning with a strikeout and left the game in favor of the newest Kane County pitcher, who also happened to be a very familiar face to the Timber Rattlers.
Jose Cuas, who was an infielder for the Rattlers in 2017 and a pitcher for Wisconsin in 2018 until he was released by the Milwaukee Brewers on July 10 of last year, had just joined the Cougars earlier in the day on Thursday. He had been signed as a Minor League free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks and had not allowed a run in 9-1/3 innings over seven outings for the Hillsboro Hops in the Northwest League prior to joining the Cougars.
Gabriel García was the first batter to face Cuas on Thursday and he drew a walk to load the bases. Ward was next and he drew another walk to force in Lujano and cut the deficit to one run.
Brent Díaz fell behind in the count but lined a 1-2 pitch to right that was deep enough to score McVey with the tying run and get García to third base. That turned out to be big when a pitch to Coca got away from Herrera at the plate to allow García to score the go-ahead run.
Castaneda went back out for the bottom of the ninth and walked Geraldo Perdomo to start the frame. Castaneda came back to retire the next two batters on a flyout and a strikeout, but that brought Eduardo Diaz back to the plate. Castaneda didn’t allow Diaz to repeat his eighth inning performance and closed out the game with a strikeout.
The final game of the brief series is Friday night at Northwestern Medicine Field. Logan Gillaspie (2-4, 3.95) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Kane County will counter with Levi Kelly (3-0, 2.63). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30pm.