Darrien Miller’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to a 4-2 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps on Tuesday night at LMCU Ballpark. Miller drove in three of Wisconsin’s four runs and the bullpen overcame some drama in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory.
The Timber Rattlers (19-32) took a 2-0 lead and knocked West Michigan starting pitcher Garrett Burhenn out of the game in the first inning. Robert Moore doubled, and Willy Adames walked to start the frame. Matt Wood was next, and he singled to center to score Moore. A walk to Joe Gray Jr loaded the bases. Then, Miller drove in Adames with a sacrifice fly. Burhenn got the second out on a force out at second, but he left the game with 31 pitches and the Whitecaps were into the bullpen. Angel Reyes took over and got the final out of the frame.
West Michigan (28-24) threatened in their half of the first as Wisconsin starter Edwin Jimenez gave up a walk and a single to the first two hitters. Jimenez found his footing and retired the next three batters to maintain the lead.
Chris Meyers got the Whitecaps on the scoreboard with a lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Myers has eight home runs this season.
Jimenez worked through the rest of the fourth with no damage and retired the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth. Justice Bigbie kept the inning alive with a double on a 1-2 pitch. Then, Jace Jung singled on an 0-2 pitch to score Bigbie with the tying run.
Wisconsin didn’t have a runner reach second base from the first through the seventh inning. That changed in the eighth.
Moore bunted for a hit and took second on a throwing error with one out against reliever Dario Gardea. Adames was at the plate when Gardea threw a wild pitch to let Moore take third. Then, Gardea walked Adames and Moore to load the bases. Gardea got the second out on a popup and was ahead of Miller 1-2.
Miller blooped a single to center to score both Moore and Adames for the Rattlers to reclaim the lead.
Luis Amaya worked a scoreless eighth inning to complete three shutout innings before turning the ball over to Justin King for the ninth.
King gave up a one out single before striking out the next batter for the second out. He was 1-2 on Bigbie, who again kept the inning alive with a single to put runners on the corners with two outs and bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Jung. However, King would not get a chance to face the #2 prospect of the Detroit Tigers. The training and coaching staff went to check on King after Bigbie’s single and removed him from the game.
Karlos Morales was called into the situation and immediately fell behind Jung 3-0 when play resumed. Morales got a called strike on the next two pitches to run the count full. Jung swung and missed at the payoff pitch and Morales had preserved the win for Wisconsin.
Amaya allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out two for his second win of the season. Morales picked up his second save of the year with his game-ending strikeout.
The loss dropped the Whitecaps to eight games behind the Great Lakes Loons in the East Division race with fourteen games left to play in the first half. The Loons won their game tonight 2-1 over Lake County at home.
Game two of the series is Wednesday night at LMCU Ballpark. Cameron Wagoner (1-7, 8.27) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Game time is 5:35pm CDT. The broadcast is on AM1280 WNAM starting with the Community Blood Center at 5:15pm.