CLINTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are still looking for their first win of the second half of the Midwest League season. The Clinton LumberKings and Taylor Ard sent the Rattlers to a 6-3 defeat at Ashford University Field on Wednesday night. Ard homered and drove in three runs for the LumberKings to pace them to their fourth straight victory.
Clinton (38-37 overall, 5-1 second half) collected a two-out, two-run single from Ard in the bottom of the first inning to grab a 2-0 lead.
Orlando Arcia got Wisconsin (29-42, 0-6) on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning. He cracked a home run to lead off the frame to cut into the Clinton lead.
The Rattlers had an opportunity to at least tie the game in the top of the fourth inning. Mike Garza singled with one out. Parker Berberet singled to left to send Garza to third. But, Clinton starter Matt Anderson retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Ard pushed Clinton's lead back out to 3-1 with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dario Pizzano made it 4-1 with a one out home run in the bottom of the fifth.
The Rattlers tried to put together a two out rally in the top of the sixth. Roache was on base when Berberet and Alfredo Rodriguez singled to load the bases, but Anderson escaped the inning with no runs scored by Wisconsin.
Clinton started to pull away in the bottom of the sixth. Marcus Littlewood walked to start the inning and moved to second on an infield grounder. Gaby Guerrero followed with a bloop single to right-center to drive in Littlewood. Guerrero was going to second on the throw home, but the throw was cutoff for a play at second. Unfortunately, the throw to second wound up back out in center to allow Guerrero to take third base.
The infield came in to cut down the run at the plate. Tim Lopes hit a hard grounder near third. Garza made a diving attempt to stop the ball, but the ball glanced off his glove into foul territory for an RBI single and a 6-1 Clinton lead.
The LumberKings went to Matt Vedo in the top of the seventh as their relief pitcher and he promptly loaded the bases with a pair of walks and an infield single. Vedo left the game as he injured his leg on the infield single.
Tyrone Taylor greeted Clinton reliever Jochi Ogando with a sharp single to left that scored one run. One out later a sacrifice fly by Garza plated a run to make the score 6-3, but that was all for the Rattlers in the inning.
Clinton loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but did not score to add any insurance.
And the Rattlers almost made them pay for that lack of insurance.
Wisconsin had two runners on with two outs in the top of the ninth. Garza sent a line drive that appeared to be heading to right-center. But, Lopes, the Clinton second baseman, made a leaping grab to deny Garza and end the game.
There were bright spots for the Timber Rattlers. Taylor extended his current hitting streak to ten games with his single in the seventh. Victor Roache had three hits to lift his season average to .231 after he started the half at .209. Mike Strong worked 2-2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to give the offense a chance to come back.
But, Wisconsin stranded eleven runners and - including the final game of the first half - the Rattlers have lost seven straight games.
Game three of the series is set for Thursday night at Ashford University Field. Tyler Wagner (6-6, 3.78) is set to be the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton sends Scott DeCecco (5-6, 4.50) to the mound. Game time is 7:00pm. Tune in for broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:40pm.
Orlando Arcia (2nd, 0 on in 3rd inning off Matt Anderson, 0 out)
Taylor Ard (5th, 0 on in 4th inning off Eric Semmelhack, 0 out)
Dario Pizzano (5th, 0 on in 5th inning off Eric Semmelhack, 1 out)
WP: Matt Anderson (4-6)
LP: Eric Semmelhack (1-4)
SAVE: Jochi Ogando (1)