CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were feeling pretty good on Saturday at Perfect Game Field after a 6-2 win in the conclusion of Friday’s suspended game and a three-run home run in the first inning of the regularly scheduled game had them eyeing a pair of wins. The Cedar Rapids Kernels had other ideas and they stormed back to tie the game by the end of the second and raced past the Rattlers for an 8-3 victory that knocked the Timber Rattlers six games behind the division leading South Bend Cubs with nineteen games left in the regular season.
Darrien Miller singled and Ben Metzinger reached on an error to start the top of the first against Kernels starting pitcher David Festa. They were at second and third with two outs when Eduardo García unloaded on a 1-1 pitch from David Festa for a long home run to left-center and a 3-0 lead for the Rattlers (59-53 overall, 23-24 second half).
Cedar Rapids (67-46, 24-23) made Rattlers starting pitcher Israel Puello work in the bottom of the first. A walk and two singles by the first three batters loaded the bases. Then, Puello walked Pat Winkel on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run. Puello rebounded to retire the next three batters on a strikeout, a popup, and a strikeout to maintain the lead.
Puello struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the second inning but hit Mikey Perez on a 1-2 pitch to bring Seth Gray to the plate. Gray tied the game with a no-doubt, two-run home run to right on a 2-1 offering.
Wisconsin drew three straight walks with two outs in the top of the fourth inning against Festa. Hunter McMahon came out of the Kernels bullpen to get out of the inning with a grounder to second.
The Kernels, who are playoff bound on the strength of winning the West Division in the first half, loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth against reliever Christian Tripp on two walks and a bloop single. Ryan Middendorf was called into the game to try to escape the inning.
Middendorf got ahead of Rucker, but Rucker pulled a 1-2 pitch down the line in left for a two-run double. Winkel was next and he pulled a 2-2 pitch down the line in right for another two-run double and the Kernels had a 7-3 lead.
McMahon allowed a lead-off single in the top of the sixth inning to Metzinger but retired the next six batters in a row to keep the Rattlers from mounting a comeback
The Kernels added one more run in the bottom of…