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Link Report for Wed. 9/12 -- Rattlers Walk Off in Game One on Wild Pitch!

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Wednesday's Daily Menu:


Time listed is Central


Wisconsin: RHP Jacob Barnes at home vs. Fort Wayne (Padres), 6:20 PM pre-game, 6:35 gametime; first game of the league championship best-of-five, game two also at home Thursday afternoon


Free Live Audio Link - 1280 AM WNAM




Follow the action as it happens with box score / game log links:






Check the Rattler Radio blog for the media notes just prior to gametime

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T-Rats acing chemistry

by Tim Froberg, Gannett Wisconsin Media


GRAND CHUTE — In minor league baseball, chemistry and cohesiveness are intangibles that are tough to create.


Constant player movement, ever-changing rosters and the stress in trying to advance careers take a chunk out of the team-building concept.


And then there’s the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.


Spend any time in their clubhouse and it’s easy to see it’s where tension goes to die.


When asked what factors have made the Timber Rattlers one of the teams that will compete for the Midwest League championship for the fourth time in franchise history, Rattlers starting pitcher Chad Pierce started with chemistry and unity and a team-first attitude.


“Our locker room has been one that you probably won’t see much in professional baseball,” said Pierce. “Everyone is close, everyone hangs out and there’s no one stabbing one another in the back.


“A lot of guys on this team are jokesters and we have a lot of fun. That’s why this clubhouse stays so loose. Sometimes guys don’t like that. They want more of a strict atmosphere. It all goes back to Matt (Erickson). He’s a great guy and he knows how to have fun. It’s rubbed off on all of us.”


Pierce, a Fond du Lac native, is scheduled to state game 2 in Appleton on Thursday. The game is scheduled to start at noon.


Postseason baseball games are won more with polished pitching and timely hitting than team chemistry, but don’t underestimate the importance of the latter in a high-pressure business like pro baseball.


“Yeah, we’re quiet for awhile after a loss, but we realize it’s not the end of the world and I think our clubhouse has a lot to do with that,” said Pierce. “I think that’s why we were able to bounce back from losing the first game of the playoffs.”


Since dropping a 4-0 decision to Burlington in Game 1 of a first-round Western Division playoff series, the Rattlers have received lights-out pitching and played their finest baseball of the season. Starting pitchers Pierce and David Goforth responded with back-to-back shutouts to win the best-of-three series over the Bees.


Then, Chad Thompson and Mark Williams delivered stellar performances in consecutive starts, allowing the Rattlers to sweep Clinton in the Western Division finals by scores of 9-1 and 4-2.


As a result, the Rattlers are playing in the Midwest League title for the first time since 2005. The Timber Rattlers also made finals appearances in 1996 and 1999, but lost all three championship series. The last time an Appleton area team won the Midwest League championship was in 1984 when the team was known as the Appleton Foxes.


“Just being able to compete for the championship feels great,” said Erickson, a year-round Appleton resident and an Appleton West alumnus. “I remember hanging out at Goodland Field as a kid, chasing foul balls. We’ve had good good community relations and good crowds all year and hopefully we’re be able to give them something to cheer about.


“I feel good for our players because of all the time and effort put in behind the scenes. This is a culmination of daily preparation and it reflects the consistency of the club. This is proof that what we do on a daily basis is the right way to do things.”


The Rattlers, who qualified for the playoffs by winning the first-half Western Division title, are a bit of a surprise team and have exceeded the expectations of many.


Wisconsin opened the season and is closing it without an abundance of top prospects. Shortstop Yadiel Rivera (No. 15), Goforth (No. 17) and first baseman Nick Ramirez (No. 28) are the only players rated among the Milwaukee Brewers top 30 prospects by Baseball America.


“As a player and a coach in professional baseball, I’ve always found it funny that people tell you before the season how you’re going to play,” said Erickson. “But if you knew, why even go out and play? That’s the beauty of baseball.”

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Final: Fort Wayne 2, Wisconsin 3 (10 Innings)


Rattlers take Game One in extra innings

Neda scores winning run in tenth on two out wild pitch

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers



The Rattlers celebrate after Rafael Neda scores the winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning against the TinCaps in Game One of the MWL Championship Series. (Ann Mollica/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)


GRAND CHUTE, WI - The 2012 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers won ten games on walkoff hits during the regular season. They did not have a walkoff win in any of their first four postseason wins. That changed on Wednesday night in Game One of the Midwest League Championship Series. Rafael Neda raced home from third base with the winning run in the tenth inning after a wild pitch to give the Rattlers a 3-2 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Neda had two hits and also drove in a run for the Rattlers.


A wild pitch figured into Wisconsin's first run of the game. Brandon Macias walked to start the bottom of the first inning and was bunted to second base on a sacrifice by Chadwin Stang. Ben McMahan was at the plate and Fort Wayne starting pitcher Joe Ross uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Macias to score all the way from second for a 1-0 lead.


Fort Wayne would also score a run without the benefit of a hit in their half of the third inning. Kyle Gaedele walked and stole second. He scored when a grounder off the bat of Travis Jankowski was booted for an error.


Neda put the Rattlers in front in the bottom of the fourth. He lined a two-out double off the wall in left field to score Max Walla from second for a 2-1 lead.


The TinCaps tied the game in the seventh inning, but the Rattlers almost escaped the frame with the lead intact thanks to a rare defensive play.


Fort Wayne had runners on first and second with no outs. Catcher Austin Hedges sent a grounder near the third base bag. Macias fielded the ball, stepped on the base for one out, threw to second for the force out there, but the throw to first was just off line and Hedges reached as the Rattlers missed on turning a triple play. A wild pitch allowed Hedges to take second base. Then, Duanel Jones tripled to right-center to drive in Hedges and the game was tied again.


Jacob Barnes did not figure into the decision, but he continued the streak of stellar starts by Wisconsin pitchers. Barnes allowed a pair of runs - one earned - on four hits over seven innings. In the last five games, Wisconsin starting pitchers have pitched 39 and allowed five runs and only three of those runs are earned runs.


Neda started the game winning rally in the bottom of the tenth inning with a single to right off Fort Wayne reliever Luis De La Cruz. Adrian Williams bunted Neda into scoring position and the TinCaps elected to walk Macias. Stang sent a check swing slow roller past the mound the moved both runners up a base, but retired Stang for the second out of the inning. Then, Fort Wayne decided to walk Ben McMahan to bring Nick Ramirez to the plate.


De La Cruz almost threw his first pitch to Ramirez to the backstop. He did throw his second pitch to the backstop and Neda raced home with the game winning run.


The Rattlers have 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.


Game Two is Thursday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Chad Pierce will get the start for the Timber Rattlers. Fort Wayne counters with Colin Rea. Game time is 12:05pm.


Thursday is the final Bang for Your Buck game of 2012. Soda, hotdogs, and beer is available for $1. Thursday is also the final College Day of the year. Students should show a college ID to receive a reserved bleacher seat for $1.


If you can't make it to the game, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 12:05pm. Thursday's game is also available to MiLB.TV subscribers.


WP: Brent Suter (1-0)

LP: Luis De La Cruz (1-1)

TIME: 2:55


ATTN: 1,574


Wisconsin Box Score


Timber Rattlers pitching has been outstanding in the playoffs and tonight was no different. Jacob Barnes went seven strong innings, giving up just two runs. Only one of the runs were earned and Barnes allowed just four hits. Brent Suter relieved him and pitched three scoreless innings to get the win. Known more for his defense, Rafael Neda was the offensive hero tonight for the Rattlers. He had two of Wisconsin's four hits and scored the game winning run. Yadiel Rivera had a hustle double and Chadwin Stang singled for the only other Rattler hits. Defensively Max Walla had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at second, following a Nick Ramirez error. Brandon Macias and Ben McMahan each drew a pair of walks.


Wisconsin Play By Play


Wisconsin Bottom of the 10th

Rafael Neda singles on a line drive to right fielder Yeison Asencio, deflected by second baseman Tyler Stubblefield.

Adrian Williams out on a sacrifice bunt, pitcher Luis De La Cruz to second baseman Tyler Stubblefield. Rafael Neda to 2nd.

Luis De La Cruz intentionally walks Brandon Macias.

Chadwin Stang grounds out, second baseman Tyler Stubblefield to first baseman Lee Orr. Rafael Neda to 3rd. Brandon Macias to 2nd.

Luis De La Cruz intentionally walks Ben McMahan.

With Nick Ramirez batting, wild pitch by Luis De La Cruz, Rafael Neda scores









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Neda, Rattlers walk off with Game 1

Brewers prospect goes 2-for-4, scores winning run in 10th

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com



It was the wild, wild Midwest League on Wednesday night.


Rafael Neda collected two hits and scored the winning run on a wild pitch as Class A Wisconsin defeated Fort Wayne, 3-2, in 10 innings in Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship Series on Wednesday.


The Brewers' ninth-round pick in 2010 singled to open the 10th inning and moved to second on Adrian Williams' sacrifice bunt. Brandon Macias was intentionally walked and Chadwin Stang grounded out to advance both runners. The TinCaps loaded the bases by walking Ben McMahan, and two pitches later, Luis De La Cruz uncorked the wild pitch that scored Neda to end the game.


"The previous pitch before it was really close to being a wild pitch," Neda said. "I was just expecting something in the dirt away from the catcher so I could just take a couple steps and go."


Neda gave the Timber Rattlers a 2-1 lead in the fourth with an RBI double and raised his playoff average to .333 in six games.


"I was seeing the ball good and I was trying to put the ball in play," Neda said. "Luckily for me I got two knocks, I'll take it. I'll take it every day."


In the best-of-5 series, taking Game 1 at home is extremely important, according to Neda.


"Everyone wants to take the lead in every series," the Mexican native said. "Especially at home, we only have two games at home. We took the first one now we have to keep it going. Hopefully, we can take the next one and we'll see what happens after. Hopefully, we can bring the championship home."


Jacob Barnes allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits over seven innings but did not figure into the decision for Wisconsin. It continued a stretch of quality starts thrown by the Timber Rattlers, as their hurlers have only allowed five runs in their past five games.


"He was working hard every inning. He was getting his spots, we were trying to minimize his long innings and he did that a lot," said Neda, Wisconsin's catcher. "It helped him stay in the game ... and he did a really good job."


Brent Suter scattered three hits over three innings and was credited with the win.


Joe Ross gave up two runs on two hits with five strikeouts over five innings in the start for the TinCaps.


Rafael Neda is batting .333 with two RBIs in the playoffs. (Vincent Rinaldi/Rinaldi Photos)



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Timber Rattlers win wild one in 10th

by Tim Froberg, Post-Crescent staff writer


GRAND CHUTE — Rafael Neda’s exceptional defensive skills and ability to work with pitchers are why he has been Wisconsin’s starting catcher throughout the playoffs.


But the pop in his bat and the zip in his legs that he displayed Wednesday night are big reasons why the Timber Rattlers hold a 1-0 lead over Fort Wayne in the Midwest League Championship Series.


Neda led off the bottom of the 10th with a single and eventually raced home on a game-winning wild pitch to lift the Rattlers to a 3-2 victory at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.


“Neda has been so solid behind the plate for us the whole playoffs that it’s only natural that he gets the big hit and scores the game-winning run,” said Wisconsin manager Matt Erickson.


Wisconsin won 10 regular-season games in walk-off fashion, so squeezing out another late-inning thriller was nothing new.


“With playoff baseball, you can’t always prepare for what’s going to happen,” said Erickson. “It was definitely unconventional, but we found a way to pull it off.”


Neda dashed home from third with the bases loaded and two outs when reliever Luis De La Cruz’s second pitch to cleanup hitter Nick Ramirez veered inside and zoomed past catcher Austin Hedge. There was no play at the plate and Erickson’s team had struck first in their attempt to win their first MWL Championship series under the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ name.


“It wasn’t a perfect way to win a game, but we’ll take it,” said Neda. “He (De La Cruz) had almost hit Nick (Ramirez) the first pitch, so I was ready. I saw the ball get the past the catcher and I was like, ‘I’m going.’ ”


The Rattlers prevailed despite just four hits, including two by Neda, who drilled an RBI double off the left-field field wall in the fourth off starter Joe Ross to give Wisconsin a 2-1 lead.


Ross was a first-round draft pick (25th overall) of the San Diego Padres in the 2011 major league draft and hit 99 mph on the radar gun with one of his pitches Wednesday.


“I had two strikes on me and he hung a curve,” said Neda. “I was just trying to put the ball into play.”


Neda shared catching duties during the regular season with Cameron Garfield and Tyler Roberts, hitting just .229 with a homer and 16 RBI.


Erickson, though, has gone with Neda as his regular catcher during the postseason and Neda’s steadying influence behind the plate has been a major factor behind the superb pitching that has fueled the Rattlers’ championship run. Wisconsin has allowed just nine runs in its six playoff games.


The Rattlers received another stellar performance from their pitching staff Wednesday. Starter Jacob Barnes allowed just one hit the first six innings and four hits in seven innings, departing with the score tied 2-2.


Southpaw Brent Suter was also sharp, pitching three shutout innings in relief to picked up the win. Suter allowed three hits and struck out three.


“We got another great start and I thought Suter did a great job out of the bullpen,” said Erickson. “He hadn’t pitched in a week, but he holds runners well and has a great pickoff move. He kept them off the board for three innings.”


Wisconsin led 2-1 until the TinCaps tied the game in the top of the seventh on Duanel Jones’ RBI triple off Barnes.


“They’ve got a scary lineup,” said Erickson. “They’ve got speed up and down the linup and we haven’t been too successful against teams with speed.”


A home crowd of 1,574 was given white rally towels upon entering the stadium and gave them a towel-waving workout in the late innings.


“I thought the atmosphere was great, with everyone waving those towels,” said Erickson. “I wouldn’t expect anything else. I grew up here and know that it’s a baseball community. Hopefully, we’ll give them more to cheer about (today).”

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