Not even the weather could stop the red-hot Wisconsin Timber Rattlers offense Thursday night at Day Air Ballpark. The Timber Rattlers cracked fourteen hits, including six doubles and two homers, to defeat the Dayton Dragons 11-2 in a rain-shortened game. The win was the third straight for the Rattlers.
The Dragons (9-12 second half, 42-45 overall) jumped in front in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out, RBI single by Austin Hendrick.
Wisconsin (12-9, 38-47) rallied with two outs in the second to take the lead. Je’Von Ward laced a double to right with two outs to get the inning to Jose Acosta, who took a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right for his second home run of the season and a 2-1 Rattlers lead.
Dayton missed on opportunities in their half of the second and third innings. Wisconsin starting pitcher Alexander Cornielle walked a pair of batters with one out with his pitch count climbing dangerously close to thirty pitches for the second inning. Cornielle escaped the frame with a strikeout and a grounder to second at twenty-six pitches for the frame. In the third, the Dragons had runners at the corners with two outs. Ruben Ibarra hit a hard grounder behind third, but Jheremy Vargas made a tough backhand pick. The throw to first was low but scooped by Ernesto Martínez Jr for the final out.
The Timber Rattlers blew the game open in the top of the fourth inning against Dayton starter Jose Acuna, who entered the game with a 6-0 record. Hendry Mendez started the inning with a single with a walk to Alex Hall putting two runners on base. Ward doubled to left-center to score Mendez and put runners at second and third. Acosta ripped a shot to first with the infield pulled in to get the run at the plate. The ball went off the glove of Ibarra and trickled into right field. The play was ruled an error and two runs scored for 5-1 lead. Vargas was next and sent a deep fly to the track in left and that was the end of the night for Acuna.
Robert Moore greeted reliever John Murphy with a double to the corner in right to knock in Acosta. Matt Wood followed and blasted a long homer to center. Wood’s first Midwest League homer of the season capped the inning and gave the Rattlers an 8-1 advantage.
Cornielle gave up a lead-off double in the bottom of the fourth to Tyler Callihan. Cornielle retired the next batter on strikeout. Then, Justice Thompson sent another hard grounder behind third. Vargas again made a good pick and this throw to first was on target. Callihan took off for third on the throw to first. Martínez tried to throw back across the diamond but threw wildly to allow Callihan to score.
The score stayed 8-2 until the top of the eighth inning. Moore knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly and Wood followed with an RBI single. In the ninth with storm clouds rolling in and lightning flashing around the ballpark, Joe Gray Jr, Mendez, and Ward singled to load the bases. Gray scored on a wild pitch and the Rattlers had an 11-2 lead.
Wisconsin reliever Nick Merkel departed after four near-perfect innings. He retired twelve of the thirteen batters he faced, allowing only an infield single to Thompson in the seventh inning. Merkel struck out five Dragons and picked up his third win since joining the Timber Rattlers.
Michele Vassalotti entered in the bottom of the ninth inning and got the first out. He missed with an 0-1 pitch to Callihan just as the skies opened up after a long peal of thunder. The umpires called for the tarp and the game went into a delay. The umpires called the game almost exactly thirty minutes after the game was halted.
The Timber Rattlers have collected 48 hits in the first three games of the series at Dayton. Wisconsin is an unworldly 19-for-48 with runners in scoring position against the Dragons as they have put up 28 runs at Day Air Ballpark.
Wood had three hits and three RBI to lead the offense on Thursday night. Acosta added three RBI while Ward had three hits including two doubles.
Game four of the series is Friday night at Day Air Ballpark. Tyler Woessner (5-4, 3.55) is the scheduled starter for the Timber Rattlers. Dayton has named Hunter Parks (2-4, 3.93) as their starter. Game time is 6:10pm CDT.