GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Clinton LumberKings were up 4-0 early in Friday's game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Wisconsin rallied back to within a run, but the LumberKings got a key hit late in the game and went on to an 8-4 victory.
Clinton (13-13) scored three times in the first inning and once more in the second to build an early lead.
The first run scored on a passed ball. Austin Wilson made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Joe DeCarlo singled in Wilson later in the inning and Clinton was up 3-0.
Marcus Littlewood pushed the lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly in the second inning.
Wisconsin (12-15) got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. David Denson doubled and Jose Pena reached on an infield single to third. Omar Garcia bunted the runners up a base. Angel Ortega grounded out to second and Denson scored.
Clinton added an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning. They had a runner at second with two outs. Wisconsin reliever Taylor Williams got Tyler O'Neill to send a grounder to short, but the ball was misplayed and rolled into left field. That allowed the run to score and the LumberKings were up 5-1.
Clinton starting pitcher Lars Huijer struck out six over six innings and allowed four hits. Wisconsin had better luck against reliever Thyago Vieira in the seventh.
Garcia walked, Ortega singled, and Johnny Davis singled to load the bases with one out. Viera hit Michael Ratterree to force in Garcia from third. Clint Coulter followed with a single to left to drive in Ortega and Davis to cut the lead to 5-4. The throw to the plate missed the cutoff man to let Ratterree take third and Coulter to take second.
Vieira stranded the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with a strikeout and a flyout to right.
The LumberKings had a runner at first with no outs in the top of the eighth when Williams walked consecutive Clinton batters to load the bases. Williams got a strikeout - his sixth of the game - for the second out. But, Marcus Littlewood, the leading hitter in the Midwest League, doubled down the line in left to drive in three runs and give the LumberKings an 8-4 lead.
Wisconsin would get a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the eighth and one in the bottom of the ninth, but the Rattlers could not score as they dropped the first game of the series to the LumberKings.
Friday was the fifth game of the homestand for the Timber Rattlers. The opponents have scored first in all five games.
Game two of the series is Saturday afternoon at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Barrett Astin (3-2, 3.62) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton will send Edwin Diaz (1-1, 2.78) to the mound. Game time is 1:05pm.
The first 500 fans to enter the ballpark on Saturday will receive a Timber Rattlers baseball cap courtesy of North Shore Bank. State-wide sports talk show host Bill Michaels will be on hand to meet fans and throw out a first pitch. Plus, the Big Unit Cruiser will be in front of the stadium.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, the radio broadcast can be heard on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the pregame show at 12:45pm. Saturday's game is also available to subscribers of MiLB.TV.
WP: Lars Huijer (1-1)
LP: Tyler Alexander (1-3)