The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had a 2-1 lead over the Dayton Dragons after five innings on Thursday Night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium thanks to a solid start from Alexander Cornielle and a couple of early runs. That small lead evaporated as the Dragons sent thirteen men to the plate and scored seven runs in the top of the sixth inning. Dayton would cruise over the final few innings and add one more run to record a 9-2 win.
The Dragons (21-18 second half, 54-51 overall) took their first lead of the series on a two-out, RBI single by Jack Rogers in the top of the first inning.
Cornielle gave up a lead-off double in the top of the second but stranded that runner to keep the Rattlers deficit at one run.
Wisconsin (20-19, 46-57) responded in their half of the second inning. Joe Gray Jr singled and Ben Metzinger doubled to start the rally. Terence Doston was at the plate with one out and the infield in on the grass. He sent a grounder that shortstop Edwin Arroyo picked, but his throw home was offline to allow Gray to score. However, catcher Mat Nelson caught the ball and threw to first in time to get Doston for the second out. Robert Moore smacked the next pitch to right for a two-out single to score Metzinger for a 2-1 lead.
Those were the only runs allowed by Dayton starter Hunter Parks over his five innings of work.
Cornielle pitched five innings and retired twelve of the last thirteen batters he faced after the double in the second. He turned the 2-1 lead over to the bullpen for the top of the sixth inning.
The lead did not last very deep into the sixth inning as the first seven Dayton hitters in the inning reached base and all seven scored to take an 8-2 lead. Wisconsin reliever Miguel Guerrero issued a lead-off walk to Sal Stewart and Cade Hunter followed with a ground rule double. Rogers tied the game with a single that put runners at the corners.
Then, Guerrero threw a wild pitch that hit the corner of the rotating sign display behind home plate. The ball caromed to in front of the Dayton dugout on the third base side. Hunter scored the go-ahead run easily and Rogers raced all the way around to third base. The Wisconsin infield came in on the grass and Austin Hendrick dropped a broken-bat blooper into shallow center that just went off the glove of Moore as he raced back after a long run. That hit gave the Dragons a 4-2 lead. Ruben Ibarra followed with a single to put two runners on base. Then, Tyler Callihan ripped a triple to the corner in right to score two runs and chase Guerrero from the game.
Mat Nelson kept the string of hits going with a single against reliever Michele Vassalotti to score Callihan for a 7-2 lead. The final run of the inning scored on an RBI single by Stewart with one out. It could have been worse as the Dragons had the bases loaded with still only one out. Vassalotti ended the inning with a popup and a strikeout.
The Timber Rattlers offense put two runners on in the seventh and eighth innings but could not score against the Dragons bullpen.
Hendrick homered against Shane Smith in the top of the ninth. The homer was Hendrick’s eleventh of the season. He has hit four home runs in nine games against the Timber Rattlers.
Smith, who came on in the eighth inning, saw his scoreless streak end at 12-1/3 innings. The only other run Smith has allowed in his 16-2/3 innings with Wisconsin this season was a one-out, solo homer in the ninth inning against Beloit on July 4.
Moore had two hits for the Rattlers to lead the offense.
The loss ended Wisconsin’s brief two-game winning streak and dropped them three games behind the Peoria Chiefs, who currently hold the second half playoff spot in the West Division of the Midwest League.
Game four of the series is scheduled for Friday night. Tyler Woessner (5-6, 3.75) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Dayton has named Jose Acuna (7-2, 3.57) as their starting pitcher. Game time is 6:40pm.