It has been a tough start to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers season so far, especially in their inability to score runs. Heading into Wednesday’s early contest, the team was 1-5 and had scored just 15 runs in their first six games. It was not the kind of start the team was hoping for after starting last season 0-6.
That was then, but after Wednesday’s onslaught the team has to be feeling that maybe they turned the corner or at least showed that they have an excellent offense. The Timber Rattlers rapped out 16-hits, including seven extra base hits, on their way to a 10-4 victory over the Burlington Bees.
Wisconsin had scored five runs in the first two games of this series, but had nearly that many just two innings into Wednesday’s contest. Isan Diaz led off the game with a hard double down the line in left, and Monte Harrison followed with a triple that scored Diaz. Tucker Neuhaus struck out, but the pitch got away, allowing Neuhaus to reach first and Harrison to score, and just like that it was 2-0 Timber Rattlers. A wild pitch moved Neuhaus to second, and Burlington starter Joe Gatto was really struggling to get control of his stuff. A lined drive base hit by Mitch Ghelfi kept the rally going, but Neuhaus was thrown out at that plate on a great throw by Jordan Serena. That allowed Ghelfi to reach second. David Denson singled to center to score Ghelfi, and Wisconsin had a three-run lead.
Freddy Peralta started for Wisconsin, and it looked like he may give at least a part of that lead right back. Angelo Amendolare singled with one out and Brendon Sanger followed with a single that moved Amendolare to third. Sanger then stole second, and there were two in scoring position with just one out. Peralta was not rattled at all, digging deep and striking out the next two hitters to end the threat.
Responding to the outstanding job by their starter, Wisconsin added another run in the top of the second. Diaz singled with two outs, and Harrison followed with his first double of the season to bring home the speedy Diaz to make it 4-0.
In the bottom of the second, Burlington would get on the board. Tanner Lubach singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Josh Delph delivered him home with a two-out base hit that made it 4-1.
Over the next three innings neither team could generate much offense. Both Peralta and Gatto showed their good stuff, as the game remained 4-1 heading into the top of the sixth. That is when Wisconsin began to blow it open.
With Cody Pope on the hill for Burlington, Alan Sharkey walked and Elvis Rubio followed with a base hit. Carlos Belonis then drew the walk to load the bases with no one out. Diaz ground out moved up everyone 90-feet, including scoring Sharkey. Harrison then struck out swinging but reached when the ball was dropped and the catcher threw the ball away. That allowed Rubio to score and it was 6-1.
In the next inning the teams swapped runs. Denson and Jake Gatewood hit back-to-back doubles with Denson scoring and it was 7-1. Amedolare doubled to start the bottom of the seventh and scored when Sanger reached on an error.
In the eighth, Wisconsin would get another run when Diaz walked to start the frame and scored on a single by Ghelfi. The Bees came right back in the bottom half, however, getting a run on a wild pitch and an RBI single from Amendolare.
Clinging to the four-run lead, the Timber Rattlers were looking for a little insurance and that got it in the top half of the ninth. Rubio singled with two outs, stole second and moved to third on a single by Belonis. Diaz then ripped a double to the wall that plated both. He attempted to take third but was thrown out on a great relay to end the inning.
With a six-run lead, Scott Grist finished out the ninth to end the game.
Marcos Diplan (1-1) earned the victory for Wisconsin. Gatto (0-1) took the loss.
Five players on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had at least two hits. Diaz had the biggest bat of all, going 4-5 with 3-runs, 3-RBI and 3-doubles. He also drew a walk. Harrison and Rubio each had three hits. Harrison scored a run and drove in two. Rubio scored two runs. Denson and Ghelfi had two hits apiece.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers now head home to take on Peoria. Game time is 7:35. Burlington travels to Beloit.
By Robert Pannier