GENEVA, IL - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers defeated the Kane County Cougars 5-1 Friday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Jorge Lopez pitched six shutout innings and the Timber Rattlers offense cashed in on their opportunities to win the first game of the final series of the first half.
Both teams threatened in the first inning. Alfredo Rodriguez singled to start the game, but was erased on a force play at second as Orlando Arcia reached on a fielder's choice. Tyrone Taylor followed with a bunt single and Arcia noticed that no one was covering third base. Arcia raced for third, but pitcher Michael Heesch managed to pick up the loose ball and tag out the Rattler runner just before he reached the bag. Then - with Michael Reed at the plate - Taylor got caught stealing 1-3-6 to end the inning.
The Cougars (29-35) got a leadoff walk from Bijan Rademacher and a single from Albert Almora to start the bottom of the first. A fly out to center put runners on the corners. The Rattlers got a strike-'em out, throw-'em out double play when Lopez struck out Jeimer Candelario on a 3-2 pitch and catcher Brent Dean's throw to second was in plenty of time to throw out Almora.
The game remained scoreless until there were two outs in the top of the fifth. Wisconsin (28-35) had runners at the corners and Alfredo Rodriguez at the plate. Rodriguez doubled to right-center to drive in both runners for a 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin extended their lead in the sixth inning. Tyrone Taylor singled, his third hit of the game, to start the inning. Michael Reed, who had walked in the fourth inning to extend his on base streak to 34 game, walked again after Taylor's single. Then, Victor Roache ended an 0-for-27 slump with a sharp single to center to load the bases with no outs.
Mike Garza drove in Taylor with a sacrifice fly to deep center. The ball was hit deep enough to allow Reed to tag and move to third base. Parker Berberet dropped a safety squeeze to got Reed home and moved Roache to second base. Dean capped the scoring in the inning with a double to left-center to chase Roache home with the run that made it 5-0 Wisconsin.
Lopez finished off his night with a 1-2-3 sixth inning, including a strikeout of the final batter he faced. Lopez allowed two hits, walked one, hit one, and struck out six.
The Cougars got on the board in the eighth against reliever Ryan Gibbard. Wilson Contreras tripled with one out. Oliver Zapata knocked in Contreras with a grounder to second base. But, Gibbard got the final out of the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his second save.
Taylor paced the Timber Rattlers offense with the second four-hit game of his professional career. Rodriguez added a single to his two-run double for a multi-hit game.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at 6:30pm. Preston Gainey (2-5, 7.30) is the scheduled starting pitcher of the Timber Rattlers. Dillon Maples (0-1, 7.99) is set to start for the Cougars. Tune in for the Miller Lite Pregame Show on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm.
WP: Jorge Lopez (3-5)
LP: Michael Heesch (3-5)
SAVE: Ryan Gibbard (2)