CLINTON, IA - Victor Roache had a huge night for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers when the team needed it. The slugging outfielder went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, and four RBI to pace Wisconsin to an 8-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings Thursday night at Ashford University Field. The win snapped Wisconsin's three-game losing streak and kept the team on the fringe of the playoff chase.
Dario Pizzano put Clinton (64-64 overall, 31-28 second half) in front in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled high off the wall in left-center to drive in Alfredo Morales from first base with one out. Tyler Marlette doubled with two outs to knock in Pizzano, but was out at third as he tried to stretch his hit into a triple.
Wisconsin (55-69, 26-33) answered with a run in the top of the second inning. Orlando Arcia singled with two outs to drive Max Walla home from second base.
Garrett Cooper extended the top of the third inning with a two-out single. Then, Roache unloaded with a home run to center. The homer was the 21st of the season for Roache and put the Rattlers in front 3-2. Roache has tied Matt Hagen (2003) and Juan Silvestre (1999) for second on the franchise single season home run list. Current Brewers outfielder Khris Davis holds the Timber Rattlers single season home run record with 22. Davis set the mark in the 2010 season.
Roache drove in another run in the top of the fifth inning. His two-out single to center scored Tyrone Taylor from third base in the top of the fifth inning.
The Rattlers maintained that 4-2 lead until the bottom of the sixth.
Gaby Guerrero reached on a single with one out. Janelfry Zorilla followed with a long home run to left field to tie the game 4-4. Rattlers starting pitcher Jorge Lopez got the second out in the sixth, but fell behind Brock Hebert 2-0. The Clinton shortstop lined the next pitch over the wall in left for his first home run of the season. That gave Clinton a 5-4 advantage.
Wisconsin stormed back in the top of the seventh. Tyrone Taylor singled and Michael Reed walked to start the inning against lefty Blake Holovach. A sacrifice bunt by Mike Garza put Rattlers on second and third. Clinton brought right-hander Richard Vargas in to face Cooper and Roache. The strategy did not work.
Cooper smacked the first pitch from Vargas through the drawn-in infield into right field to score both Taylor and Reed to put Wisconsin up 6-5. Cooper took second base on an errant throw to the plate. Roache followed with a double into the corner in right to drive in Cooper. Later in the inning Roache scored on a passed ball to put the Rattlers up 8-5.
Rattlers reliever Jono Armold, who got the final out of the bottom of the sixth, got the first out in the bottom of the seventh. A single and a walk brought the tying run to the plate. Armold got the second out on a fly ball to left the runners where they were. Gaby Guerrero was next and he worked the count full. Guerrero lined the payoff pitch from Armold for what looked like a sure hit down the right field line. But, Cooper made a leaping grab to rob Guerrero and end the inning.
Armold pitched a perfect eighth inning and turned the ball over to Hobbs Johnson for the ninth.
Johnson, the 14th round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2013 draft, retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his first save with the Timber Rattlers.
The win moved Wisconsin back to within five games of the LumberKings for the second half Western Division Wild Card with eleven games remaining in the regular season.
Game three of the series - and the final game of Wisconsin's seven game road trip - is scheduled for Friday night. Austin Ross (1-0, 3.49) is scheduled to start for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton sends Victor Sanchez (6-5, 2.75) to the mound. Game time is 6:30pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm.
Victor Roache (21st, 1 on in 3rd inning off Charles Kaalekahi, 2 out)
Janelfry Zorilla (6th, 1 on in 6th inning off Jorge Lopez, 1 out)
Brock Hebert (1st, 0 on in 6th inning off Jorge Lopez, 2 out)
WP: Jono Armold (3-2)
LP: Blake Holovach (1-2)
SAVE: Hobbs Johnson (1)