GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers started their two-week odyssey through the Western Division of the Midwest League with an 8-4 win over the Burlington Bees at Community Field on Friday night. Clint Coulter and Alfredo Rodriguez each drove in two runs for Wisconsin.
The Rattlers (19-19) had a great opportunity to go in front in the first inning. Tyrone Taylor started the game with a double. The next two batters drew walks to load the bases with no outs. But, Bees starting pitcher Reid Scoggins struck out the next two batters and got a grounder to second to strand three runners in a scoreless top of the first.
Burlington (13-24) took the lead in the bottom of the first. Wendell Soto drew a walk, stole second, and stole third. A two-out single to right by Michael Bolaski drove in Soto for a 1-0 lead.
The Rattlers stormed back in the top of the third inning. Mitch Haniger doubled with one out. Then, Victor Roache drew a walk. Adam Giacalone tied the game with a single to center that drove in Haniger. Rodriguez put the Rattlers in front with a double to left-center that drove in Roache and Giacalone in for a 3-1 lead.
Wisconsin added to their lead with two runs in the top of the fifth. They loaded the bases with no outs and Roache scored on a throwing error to the plate on a force play after a Coulter grounder to third. Jose Sermo followed with a sacrifice fly and the Rattlers were up 5-2.
The Bees staged a rally against Rattlers starting pitcher Ryan Gibbard in the bottom of the sixth. Kyle Johnson drew a walk and stole second with one out. Wade Hinkle followed with an RBI double. A walk, a strikeout, and another walk loaded the bases with two outs.
Left-handed reliever Taylor Wall took over for Gibbard on the hill, struck out Andre Ray to stop the Bees rally, and kept the Rattlers up 5-2.
Gibbard went 5-2/3 innings, allowed two runs on three hits, walked five, struck out five, and was in line for the win.
The Rattlers offense put up some insurance runs in the seventh inning. Coulter doubled sharply down the third base line to drive in two runs. He scored later in the frame on a wild pitch.
Jorge Lopez entered the game for the Rattlers to start the bottom of the sixth inning and he struck out six over the final three innings to earn his second save of the season. The only hiccup in the performance of Lopez was a two-out, two-run double by Soto in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at Community Field. Eric Semmelhack (1-0, 3.33) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. The Bees have named Aaron Newcomb (1-1, 4.29) as their scheduled starter. Game time is 6:30pm.
Tune in for the radio call of Saturday's game on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm
WP: Ryan Gibbard (3-1)
LP: Reid Scoggins (0-1)
SAVE: Jorge Lopez (2)