Rafael Valera Single Sinks Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 9th
It was an amazing comeback by the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The home team was behind 2-0 entering the bottom of the eighth, but plated two to tie the game. It was an exciting rally, but the joy ended quickly when the Cedar Rapids Kernels scored a run in the top of the ninth to win 3-2.
Zach Hirsh started for Wisconsin against Felix Jorge. Both pitchers retired the side in the first, but in the second the Kernels got on the scoreboard. Alex Real singled to right field to begin the inning, and came around to score when Max Murphy lofted a hit to the wall that he legged out for a triple. Real came all the way around to score to make it 1-0.
In the sixth Cedar Rapids added another run. Edgar Corcino led off by reaching on an error, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Real scored in the first, but in the sixth he lined a single to right field to score Corcino to make it a two-run lead. The designated hitter finished the game 3-4 with a run and an RBI.
Jorge found himself in a bit of trouble in both the third and fourth innings. He gave up a lead-off single to Elvis Rubio to begin the third, but a double-play wiped him from the base path. Brandon Diaz then drew a walk, and a throwing by the Cedar Rapids pitcher on a pick-off attempt put Diaz at second, but he stayed calm, getting a fly ball out to end the inning.
In the fourth Dustin DeMuth singled with one out and moved to second on a ground out. A wild pitch moved DeMuth to third, but Jorge got a ground out to end that inning.
Over the next two innings he retired the Timber Rattlers in order to keep the score 2-0. Jorge pitched 6 innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk while striking out 3.
Hirsch looked like he would be the tough luck loser on this night. He went 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, and 2 runs, only one of which was earned. He fanned 5.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers simply had no answer against Jorge, but hoped to have better luck against Michael Theofanopoulos. In the seventh the home club was retired in order, including two by strikeouts, but in the eighth they would get to the Cedar Rapids reliever.
Greg McCall singled to begin the inning, and two batters later Alan Sharkey walked to put two on with one out. Diaz then took a Theofanopoulos offering and lined it to the wall in left field to score both runners and tie the game.
It was an exciting comeback, but the enthusiasm came to an abrupt end in the top of the ninth. Scott Leiser came in to relieve, and gave up a single to Real to begin the inning. Tanner English ran for Real and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Max Murphy popped out for the second out of the inning, but Rafael Valera came up big with a clutch single to score English. That made it 3-2.
In the bottom half of the inning Trevor Hildenberger came in to close out the game. He retired the side in order, striking out one for his ninth save of the year. Theofanopoulos (2-2) earned the victory. Lieser (0-2) took the loss.
By Robert Pannier