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MWL: Brennan’s blast beats Kernels in Wisconsin’s walk-off win

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Taylor Brennan hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers beat the Kernels 6-4 on Wednesday night. Earlier in the game, players and coaches from both teams were ejected after the benches cleared in the sixth inning.

Brennans two-run shot to center field came with no outs in the final inning as the Kernels were walked-off for the first time this season. The game was tied 4-4 entering the bottom of the ninth inning when Paul Eshleman singled to right-center to put the winning run on base. Brennan came up next, and it appeared like he would put down a sacrifice bunt. He squared to bunt on the first pitch, but he took the Brandon Bixler pitch for a ball. However, Brennan swung at the next pitch and drilled his fifth home run of the season, giving the Timber Rattlers the 6-4 victory.

The benches cleared in the sixth inning following an Aaron Slegers inside pitch to Wisconsins designated hitter Jose Pena. The previous hitter Clint Coulter had just hit a towering two-run home run to left field to tie the game 4-4. The first pitch to the next hitter, Pena, came inside, and Pena stared down Slegers. Kernels catcher Michael Quesada got in front of home plate and faced Pena. Then, the dugouts and bullpens for both teams emptied onto the field near home plate. Players and coaches from both teams exchanged words before the squads were separated before any punches were thrown. There was a 15-minute delay in the game as the umpiring crew sorted out the situation.

Six players were ejected, three from each side. For the Kernels that included catcher Michael Quesada, Joel Licon who was the first player out of the bullpen as he was acting as the bullpen catcher for the evening, and Bill Springman, the Minnesota Twins minor league hitting coordinator, who was in town for the game. Wisconsin lost designated hitter Jose Pena, left fielder Omar Garcia, and pitching coach Elvin Nina.

Slegers stayed in the game for the Kernels following the delay and retired the final six hitters he faced. He exited after seven innings, allowing four runs on five hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Bixler (3-3) took the loss for the Kernels after allowing the walk-off home run. He retired the side in order in the eighth inning while striking out two before facing two batters in the ninth inning, allowing two runs on two hits.

Wisconsin (27-31) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as the first three hitters all reached base. Johnny Davis and Omar Garcia started the frame with singles to put runners at the corners. Michael Ratterree then brought them both home with a two-run double that fell just fair into the left field corner.

The Kernels (27-32) scored once in the third inning to make the score 2-1, but they left wanting more as they left the bases loaded to end the inning. The first four hitters reached base as Engelb Vielma doubled to begin the inning. Chad Christensen was then hit by a pitch, and Mitch Garver walked to load the bases. Bryan Haar followed with the second straight base on balls, bringing in Vielma to get the Kernels on the board.

The Kernels tied the game 2-2 in the fourth inning. With one out, Ryan Walker was hit by a pitch. He moved to third base after a single by Vielma and a walk by Garver. Walker then scored on a passed ball by Timber Rattlers catcher Clint Coulter with Haar at the plate, tying the game. Again, the Kernels ended the inning with bases still loaded.

Cedar Rapids took a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning. Christensen started the inning with a double. He quickly scored on Garvers RBI single that got into center field, moving to the right of the second baseman Francisco Castillo. Garver moved to second base on a fielding error by Johnny Davis in center, and he scored later in the inning on a wild pitch by Wisconsin reliever Taylor Williams.

The two-run home run by Coulter that tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning was his 11th of the season. It came after Ratterree was hit by a pitch to begin the inning. Four total players were hit by pitches in the game, two for each team.

Williams (3-1) recorded the win for the Rattlers as he went four innings in relief. He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out four and walking one. Tyler Alexander started and lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Rodolfo Fernandez went 1 2/3 innings. He did not allow a run or a hit, but he walked four.

The Kernels stranded a total of 14 men on base, tying a season-high. 12 of the 14 left on base came within the first five innings of play. On the night the Kernels went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

The Kernels continue the series at Wisconsin on Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. RHP Fernando Romero (0-0, 0.00) will make his Midwest League debut for the Kernels while LHP Clint Terry (0-0, 0.00) will start for the Timber Rattlers.

The Kernels return home on Tuesday, June 10 to take on the Quad Cities River Bandits at 6:35 p.m. Its Twins Tuesday, sponsored by Great Clips. Get an online coupon from the Kernels Facebook page or email newsletter for a 2-for-1 ticket offer. The Kernels will wear special jerseys, and one lucky fan will win a pair of Minnesota Twins tickets.

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