The best comeback by a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers team I have ever seen was a game on July 11, 2005. The team trailed the Peoria Chiefs 11-2 after six innings before rallying for a 12-11 win in ten at O'Brien Field. That is my benchmark for comebacks. But, there was a game from before my tenure that was at home and featured an even bigger Timber Rattlers rally. That game -- from May 24, 1996 -- is the subject of this week's Flashback Friday.
The words are from the article written for The Post-Crescent by David Smith for the May 25, 1996 edition. The picture is the baseball card of Luis Tinoco, who had a big hit...or two...or three in the Rattler victory. The boxscore, for that game may be found over at Rattler Radio. Make sure to click over there to gaze at it in all of its glory.
Rattlers refuse to go down
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers manager Mike Goff has a message for fans attending games at Fox Cities Stadium.
Don't leave early.
The Rattlers, one night after scoring five runs in the ninth inning, scored 11 runs over the final three innings Friday to edge the Quad City River Bandits 11-10 in a 10-inning Midwest League baseball game.
"I kept trying to tell you people that these guys hate to lose," Goff said, regarding the fanes. "A lot of them disappeared and they gave up on us.
"I say it everyday -- just when they think we're down and just when they think we're dead, somebody always steps up and gets us back into the ballgame."
Luis Tinoco was one of the players who stepped up Friday, as his one-out single in the 10th drove home David Arias from third as Wisconsin (31-13) concluded its series with the Western Division leading River Bandits winning three of four games.
Quad City (25-18) rocked Rattlers starter Damaso Marte, chasing him after four innings. Marte gave up 10 runs on eight hits and walked five.
Wisconsin started its comeback in the eighth inning as a two-run home run by Arias and a solo homer by catcher Karl Thompson ignited a four-run inning.
The Rattlers benefitted from four walks and four hits in the ninth with three singles coming after two were out, to sent the game into the extra inning.
Randy Vickers, who is batting just .203 for the month of May tied the game in the ninth with a two-out single, capping a six-run rally. It was Vickers' first at-bat of the game, as he replaced leadoff batter Chris Dean, who was ejected for arguing a strikeout call to lead off the inning.
"Before I got up to bat, Goff came up to me and told me, 'Look, we're going to win some and we're going to lose some -- you're going to succeed, you're going to fail. Don't think about it,'" Vickers said. "He said, 'We don't need a home run, we just need a base hit to tie this game.' I walked away knowing that I was going to get that hit."
Arias, who was three-for-five, led off the 10th with a ground-ball single, advanced to third on a single by Faruq Darcuiel and scored on Tinoco's game-winner.
"(Goff) told me not to think about hitting a jack (home run), but to think about a base hit -- that's what we needed," said Arias.
Aaron Scheffer (4-0) earned the win for Wisconsin, pitching the final inning. Eric Smith took the loss for Quad City, but Brock Steinke, who pitched in the eighth and ninth innings, allowed 10 of the Rattlers' runs on six hits and five walks.
"It's a big win, but not because we came back from a 10-0 deficit after eight innings," Vickers said. It's a big win because the Quad City team is a really great team and if we split with them at our field, we're not doing our job. We've got to take three of four from them and we did."
NOTES AND REACTIONS
1.) As a reminder: Arias = Ortiz. Also, The man who would be Big Papi had three hits, two RBI, one homer, and a stolen base.
2.) Attendance on 5/24/96 = 2,926
3.) Those post-game quotes from Mike Goff early in the article are straight-up, 100% pure, non-filtered Mike Goff quotes.
4.) However, during games, Goff apparently becomes a Zen master. 'You're going to succeed, you're going to fail. Don't think about it." That is Jack Handy deep.
5.) The River Bandits finished the 1996 season at 70-61 and won both halves in the Western Division. Wisconsin was 77-58 and won the first half Central Division Title. The Rattlers went 4-3 against the Bandits in the regular season. The two teams met again in the Midwest League semifinals and Wisconsin won the best-of-three series 2-1.
6.) In 1996, the River Bandits were an affiliate of the Houston Astros. Future major leaguers in their lineup against the Rattlers that day included: Carlos Hernandez, Julio Lugo, Chris Truby, and Freddy Garcia. Hernandez and Lugo hit 1-2 in the Quad City lineup, Truby had a pair of hits and Garcia was the starter in that game. He left after seven scoreless innings in which he allowed five hits with four walks and five strikeouts. Steinke would go up to Kissimmee, Houston's Florida State League team, later in the 1996 season, but he never played in organized ball again after that year.
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