The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers took a while to get going offensively on Wednesday night against the West Michigan Whitecaps at LMCU Ballpark. However, once the bats started rolling, there was no stopping Wisconsin in their 9-4 win.
The Whitecaps (28-25) took the lead with three runs on five hits in the bottom of the third inning. Izaac Pacheco doubled to drive in the first run of the inning. Justice Bigbie followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0.
Wisconsin centerfielder Joe Gray Jr kept West Michigan from adding to their lead. The Whitecaps had runners on first and second with two outs when Chris Meyers hit a ball deep to the gap in right-center. Gray made a diving, tumbling catch and held on for the final out of the inning.
Through five innings, Wisconsin had had just two base runners – Alex Hall on a walk with one out in the third and Je’Von Ward on a two-out double in the fifth. Both runners reached against Troy Melton, who worked four innings as a reliever after Beau Brieske had started the game and worked a 1-2-3 first with two strikeouts on an MLB rehab from the Detroit Tigers.
The Timber Rattlers bats came alive in the top of the sixth inning against Chance Kirby, the third West Michigan pitcher of the night. Matt Wood singled with Robert Moore at first base. A wild pitch moved both runners up a base. A two-out wild pitch allowed Moore to score Wisconsin’s first run and send Wood to third. Then, Darrien Miller doubled to right-center to score Wood. Ben Metzinger followed with a double to the corner in right on a 3-2 pitch to send Miller home with the tying run.
Metzinger has driven in at least one run in his last four games for the Rattlers.
West Michigan retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Chris Meyers doubled, and Roberto Campos singled with one out to put runners on the corners against Wisconsin reliever Sam Gardner, who was making his Timber Rattlers debut. Danny Serretti put the Whitecaps in front with a sacrifice fly.
The Rattlers (20-32) rallied again with two outs in the top of the seventh. Ward singled, and Alex Hall walked to start the inning, but they were both still at first and second with two outs. West Michigan brought lefty Gabe Sequeira out of the bullpen to face Wood, who foiled the strategy with a single to center to get Ward home with the tying run.
Sequeira committed a balk to allow both Hall and Wood into scoring position. Then, Serretti put the Rattlers in front when he threw wildly to first on a grounder to short off the bat of Gray. A play that should have ended the inning allowed two runs to score and the Rattlers were up 6-4.
Metzinger started Wisconsin’s rally in the eighth inning with a double. Eduardo García laced a single to right to score Metzinger and a misplay by Brady Allen allowed García to take third base. Ward, who went 3-for-4 on the night, followed with an RBI double. One out later, Eduarqui Fernández capped the inning with an RBI single to put the Rattlers up 9-4.
Wisconsin hitters went 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday night.
Ryan Brady relieved Gardner to start the bottom of the seventh and closed out the game with three scoreless innings.
Gardner, who was signed from the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League on June 2, picked up his first win in affiliated ball. Brady, a non-drafted free agent out of BYU after the 2022 draft, earned his first pro save.
West Michigan’s already slim playoff hopes in the East Division’s first half race took a big hit with their loss and Great Lakes 10-1 win over Lake County on Wednesday. Great Lakes now leads both West Michigan and Dayton in the East by nine games with thirteen games remaining in the first half of the season.
Game three of the series is Thursday night at LMCU Ballpark. Jacob Misiorowski, the #4 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers system, will make his Timber Rattlers debut as the starting pitcher. West Michigan has named Williander Moreno (3-0, 3.67) as their starter. Game time is 5:35pm CDT.