The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers ran through the tape at the end of the 2023 season. The Rattlers beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 8-5 on Sunday afternoon at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium to end the season on a four-game winning streak.
Luke Keaschall, the second round pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2023 draft, hit a solo home run with one out in the top of the first inning off Aaron Ashby to put the Kernels up 1-0. The homer was Keaschall’s first with the Kernels.
Cedar Rapids (82-50 overall, 42-24 second half) put the first two batters on in the top of the second inning on a walk and a double. Edwin Jimenez replaced Ashby after the double and stranded both runners as he retired the next three batters in order.
Wisconsin (62-68, 36-30) rallied after there were two outs and none on base in the bottom of the second inning to take the lead. Darrien Miller walked with Ben Metzinger and Eduarqui Fernández providing singles to load the bases. Terence Doston beat out an infield single to get the tying run home. Then, Robert Moore drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run.
The Rattlers sent eight men to the plate in the third inning to pad their lead with three runs. Miller and Fernández had RBI singles with Doston providing an RBI double for a 5-1 lead.
The Kernels got a run off Jimenez in the top of the fourth on a two-out, RBI double by Misael Urbina, to cut into the Wisconsin lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Wisconsin added three more runs to go up 8-2. There were two walks with one out before Eduardo García singled to drive in the first run of the frame. Metzinger had a two-out, RBI single to make it 7-2. García scored on a wild pitch for Wisconsin’s final run.
That outburst in the fourth turned out to be enough for the Rattlers as it gave them a cushion to withstand two more Cedar Rapids homers. Keaschall hit his second homer, a two-run shot in the fifth. Carson McCusker hit his seventh homer of the season, a solo shot in the sixth, to get the Kernels to within three runs. They would get no closer.
Cedar Rapids finished the season with 137 home runs with twenty-six of those coming in twenty-four games against the Timber Rattlers.
Jimenez allowed four runs over 4-2/3 innings of relief and struck out four to pick up his seventh win of the season.
Miguel Guerrero got the final out of the sixth inning and worked 2-1/3 scoreless innings to hold the lead,
Nick Merkel had two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game and pick up his second save of the season.
Wisconsin won the final four games of the series from the Kernels to win the six-game series 4-2. The Rattlers also ended the season tied in the season series with the Kernels as each team won twelve games.
The Timber Rattlers went 12-2 in their final fourteen games of the season. The finishing rush allowed the Rattlers end the second half of the season 36-30 to tie the Peoria Chiefs for second place in the West Division behind the Kernels. However, the Chiefs won the season series from Wisconsin to claim the tiebreaker and advance to the playoffs to face Cedar Rapids with Game One of the best-of-three series set to Tuesday night in Peoria.