GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Cedar Rapids Kernels scored in each of the first four innings to take a 5-3 lead against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Friday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. They held on to defeat the Rattlers by that same score despite a late scare thrown into them by Wisconsin. Chris McFarland had three hits and Tyrone Taylor homered for Wisconsin to lead Wisconsin's ten-hit attack.
The Kernels (42-28 overall, 2-0 second half) took the lead in the first inning on a two-out RBI double by Dalton Hicks. Rattlers starting pitcher Tyler Wagner retired the first two batters he faced, but hit Travis Harrison on an 0-2 pitch to extend the inning. Hicks smacked his double off the wall by the Rattlers bullpen in right-center to drive in his league-leading 64th run of the season.
Taylor tied the game for the Timber Rattlers (29-38, 0-2) with a line drive homer to left with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. The homer was his fifth of the season.
Wagner ran into control issues in the top of the second inning. He gave up a one out single and walked the next three batters. The third walk was a bases loaded free pass to Niko Goodrum to force in the run that made it 2-1. Harrison followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the second run of the inning and put the Kernels up 3-1.
McFarland brought the Timber Rattlers back to even in the bottom of the second inning. His two-out triple off the middle of the wall in center drove in a pair of runs. There were two outs and none on in the inning when Alfredo Rodriguez singled and Tyler Roberts was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch by Kernels starter Josue Montanez moved both runners into scoring position. McFarland was next and his triple knocked in both runners.
But, the game did not remained tied for long. Tyler Grimes led off the top of the third inning with a home run. The Kernels added to their lead in the top of the fourth when Hicks drove in Byron Buxton with a two-out single.
Mike Strong, a lefty out of the Rattlers bullpen, came on in the top of the fifth inning and struck out four over two scoreless innings. Martin Viramontes allowed two hits and struck out seven over three scoreless innings to keep the game close.
But, the Rattlers struggled against Tim Atherton, who entered the game in the bottom of the fourth. The right-hander out of Australia retired the first ten batters he faced. Rodriguez singled with one out in the seventh and McFarland singled with two outs to bring the lead run to the plated. But, Atherton escaped the inning with a strikeout.
Kaleb Merck entered the game in the eighth and pitched around a hit batsman for a scoreless frame. He upped his degree of difficulty in the bottom of the ninth. Mike Garza singled to start the inning. Roberts reached when the Cedar Rapids right fielder missed catching a fly ball. Adrian Williams took over at first base as the pinch runner for Roberts. Then, McFarland loaded the bases with an infield single.
That brought Michael Reed to the plate with the winning runs on base. Reed, who had drawn a walk in the first inning to extend his on base streak to 38 consecutive games, struck out on a 2-2 pitch from Merck.
Orlando Arcia stepped up and sent a grounder to short. The ball hit Williams before it reached the shortstop. Arcia would be credited with a hit, but the game ended when the ball hit Arcia.
The Timber Rattlers are 12-22 at home and 1-5 in six games against the Kernels this season.
Game three of the series is set for Saturday night. Jorge Lopez (3-5, 6.44) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Brett Lee (4-4, 4.45) is set to go for the Kernels. Game time is 6:35pm.
Saturday night is Outdoors Night at the ballpark. The Timber Rattlers will wear woodland camouflage jerseys as part of Outdoors Night. Fans may bid on the jerseys as part of a silent auction during the game. Plus, Ducks Unlimited is giving away duck calls to the first 500 fans into the ballpark and All Things Jerky will have samples of their jerky.
One lucky fan will win airfare for two from Funjet Vacations and Fox World Travel at this game as part of Fly Away Saturday and make sure to stick around after the game for a FOX 11 fireworks display.
If you can't make it out to the game, tune in for the television broadcast on My NEW32's Sports Showdown starting with their pregame show at 6:00pm. The radio broadcast will be on AM1280, WNAM and timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:15pm. Subscribers to MiLB.TV may also catch the action.
Tyler Grimes (5th, 0 on in 3rd inning off Tyler Wagner, 0 out)
Tyrone Taylor (5th, 0 on in 1st inning off Josue Montanez, 2 out)
WP: Tim Atherton (4-2)
LP: Tyler Wagner (6-6)
SAVE: Kaleb Merck (1)