The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers showed that this team has some serious bite to them when they need it. They also proved that when they need to mount a big rally they have the quick reaction to erase a deficit and turn it into a lead.
All of those characteristics were on display Saturday night as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers saw their four-run lead quickly vanish, only to recover and win the game 8-5 over the Beloit Snappers. It was an impressive comeback led by the club’s lead-off hitter, Brandon Diaz.
All was looking good for the home team through the first five innings. Angel Ventura started for Wisconsin and was absolutely dominating through the first half of the game. The Timber Rattlers starter loaded the bases in the first before getting out of trouble, then retired the side in order in the second and third innings. In the fourth the Snappers got a lead-off double by Joe
Bennie and Jose Brizuela singled to put runners at the corner with no one out. This was a chance for Beloit to get on the board, but Ventura showed how good his stuff is, getting a shallow fly ball for the first out and then striking out the next two batters to end the threat. In the fifth he gave up a two out single, but no damage occurred from it.
While Ventura was keeping the Snappers off the scoreboard, his teammates were staking him to a four-run lead. It began in the bottom of the first inning when Diaz led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs Dustin DeMuth walked and Carlos Leal hit a grounder to short that he beat out for a single. Diaz scored on the play and it was 1-0.
In the next inning, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers got back on board again. Alan Sharkey began the inning by reaching on an error and moved to second when Sthervin Matos singled off of the shortstop’s glove. Two batters later Diaz grounded a single into left field that plated Sharkey to make it 2-0. Blake Allemand followed with a single that the second baseman could not make a play on, and it was 3-0. That was it for Beloit starter Health Fillmyer. Kevin Johnson came in and closed out the inning.
In the fifth Wisconsin extended their lead. Leal singled with one out, and two batters later Sharkey lined a triple to the wall that brought Leal all the way around to score. That made it a four-run lead.
With the way Ventura was pitching, this game looked like it was over, but in the top of the sixth the Beloit Snappers mounted a rally that left them with the lead. The first four batters reached to begin the inning, as Bennie singled and Brizuela and Max Kuhn followed with walks. Justin Higley singled to score both Bennie and Brizuela and the Wisconsin lead was just two.
That would be it for the Timber Rattlers starter. Luke Curtis came in to relieve, but he did not stop the bleeding. Argenis Raga struck out, then Beloit got back-to-back singles from Shawn Duinkerk and Tim Proudfoot. Proudfoot’s single scored both Kuhn and Higley to tie the game. James Harris then delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Duinkerk and in the blink of an eye the Snappers were on top.
In the bottom of the seventh the Timber Rattlers retook the lead. Elvis Rubio doubled with one out and Sharkey walked to put two on. Dominique Vattuone came in to relieve and walked Matos to load the bases. Tucker Neuhaus’ lined single to left scored Rubio, bringing Diaz to the plate. The center fielder had come up big all game long and he delivered again, singling to center to score both Sharkey and Matos. That gave the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers the 7-5 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth Wisconsin extended their lead. Dustin DeMuth led-off the inning with his fifth home run of the season to make the score 8-5. That would be the final.
Cody Stull (2-3) took the loss for Beloit. Luke Curtis (4-1) earned the win with 2.1 innings of relief work. Tyler Linehan pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings for the save.
Diaz finished the day 3-5 with a run and 3 RBI. Allemand had 2 hits and an RBI and both Matos and Sharkey scored two runs.
These two clubs will go at it again tomorrow afternoon. The Beloit Snappers send Daniel Gossett (3-7, 5.42 to the hill. Cody Ponce will be making his first start for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Game time is 1:05.
By Robert Pannier