GRAND CHUTE, WI - Rodolfo Fernandez stepped up on Sunday for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The right-hander out of Cuba made his first professional start and tossed a gem against the Kane County Cougars in Wisconsin's 3-1 victory. The win at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium allowed the Rattlers to pick up ground in the Western Division playoff chase.
Alfredo Rodriguez put the Timber Rattlers (57-70 overall, 28-34 second half) in front with a run in the bottom of the third inning. His two-out single up the middle drove Orlando Arcia home from third base. Wisconsin added to their lead in the fourth inning. They had Tyrone Taylor at third and Victor Roache at first base with one out. Parker Berberet grounded into a force play at second to get Taylor home for a 2-0 lead.
Fernandez carried a seventeen inning scoreless streak heading into Sunday's game. The native of Cuba kept Kane County off balance and off the scoreboard through the first five innings. The Cougars (52-75, 22-39) got to Fernandez in the sixth.
Wilson Contreras stood at the plate with Gioskar Amaya at second and two outs. Contreras doubled just inside the bag at third base to drive in Amaya. An error on the play let Contreras take third base. That RBI hit ended the scoreless streak of Fernandez at 22-2/3 innings.
Arcia made a stellar defensive play at short to end the bottom of the sixth inning and keep the Rattlers up 2-1. Marco Hernandez followed the Contreras play with a hot shot up the middle. Arcia made a diving stop of the ball, got to his feet, and fired a strike to first base to get Hernandez.
Fernandez tossed six innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked none, and struck out five as he put Wisconsin in position to win the game.
The Rattlers added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Victor Roache singled to start the inning and Berberet was hit by a pitch with one out. Kane County brought left-handed reliever Al Yevoli on in relief of starter Starling Peralta to face Max Walla. The left-handed hitting Walla pulled a double inside the first base bag to drive in Roache and the Rattlers lead was back to two runs.
Mike Strong took over for Fernandez in the top of the seventh. He allowed a leadoff double only to strand that runner at third base. In the eighth, Strong worked around a leadoff single and a two-out double to keep the Cougars off the scoreboard. He tossed a perfect ninth inning with a pair of strikeouts to close out the Cougars. Strong allowed three hits, struck out five, and earned his first save of the season.
The Clinton LumberKings entered Sunday's action at 31-30 in the second half and holding a four game lead over the Timber Rattlers for the Wild Card. But, Clinton lost 6-4 at Beloit to drop to .500 on the half..
Additionally, Peoria lost 9-1 at Cedar Rapids. Wisconsin has moved even with Peoria in the second half standings. Both teams are 28-34 and trail Clinton by three games for the Wild Card with eight games remaining in the regular season.
The series continues on Monday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Tyler Wagner (9-8, 3.29) is scheduled as the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. James Pugliese (0-0, 7.20) is the scheduled starter for the Cougars. Game time is 7:05pm.
The final poster in the Dunkin Donuts poster series features the entire 2013 Timber Rattlers team and the first 1,000 fans to attend the game will receive this team photo. Plus, on a Qdoba Q*Monday purchase a lunch entrée at either Qdoba location in Appleton and receive a free ticket to this game courtesy of Qdoba and 106.7, The Kruz. Stick around after the game for a fireworks display from Super Mobil.
If you can't make it out to the stadium, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will have the television broadcast starting at 7:00pm. The radio broadcast may be heard on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Monday's game is also available on MiLB.TV.
WP: Rodolfo Fernandez (4-3)
LP: Starling Peralta (2-2)
SAVE: Mike Strong (1)