CLINTON, IA - The Clinton LumberKings made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers held on for a 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon at Ashford University Field.
Wisconsin (23-26) loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first on singles by Johnny Davis and Steve Halcomb and a hit batsman to Clint Coulter. Rafael Neda gave the Rattlers the lead on a grounder to third that turned into an out when Halcomb was tagged out heading to third. A wild pitch by Clinton starting pitcher Lars Huijer moved Coulter to third and Neda to second with Taylor Brennan at the plate. Brennan's grounder towards left was cut off on a diving play by third baseman Joe DeCarlo. Coulter would score on the play as DeCarlo's only play was to first base on Brennan.
Clinton (25-24) responded with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. The LumberKings loaded the bases with no outs against Wisconsin starter Barrett Astin on a single by Joe DeCarlo, a walk to Justin Seager, and a single by Martin Peguero. Astin walked Lonnie Kauppila to force in a run and keep the bases loaded. Zach Shank was next and he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, but Seager scored from third on the play to tie the game 2-2.
The Rattlers used the bunt - three straight bunts to be exact - to take the lead back in the top of the fifth. Francisco Castillo started the inning with a bunt and went to second on a throwing error by catcher Marcus Littlewood. Omar Garcia followed with a bunt up the third base line that dropped in for a hit to put runners on the corners. Davis, who started the game with a bunt single, dragged another bunt up the first base line for a hit to drive in Castillo with the go ahead run. That would be the end of the scoring, but not the end of the action.
Barrett Astin tossed a scoreless bottom of the fifth before turning the game over to the bullpen. Astin allowed two runs on four hits, walked four, and struck out three in the game. That put him in position for his fifth win of the season.
Rodolfo Fernandez pitched three scoreless innings to maintain the lead before turning the game over to Chris Razo to start the ninth.
Razo got the first out on a strikeout. The next batter was Martin Peguero and he wound up at second base after an error on a grounder off his bat. Then, pinch runner Jack Reinheimer took over for Peguero at second. Razo walked Kauppila to put the winning run on base as well.
Shank was up next and he sent a single to the outfield. Reinheimer tried to score on the hit, but right fielder Jose Pena made a strong one-hop throw to the plate and Reinheimer was beat by plenty for the second out of the inning.
However, Kauppila went to third as the tying run and Shank, the potential winning run, was at second. Corey Simpson swung at the first pitch he saw from Razo and sent a fly ball to the gap in left-center. But, Johnny Davis ran it down and made the catch for the final out of the game.
Game two of the series is a Memorial Day matinee in Clinton. Tristan Archer (2-2, 5.03) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Edwin Diaz (2-2, 3.19) is scheduled to start for the LumberKings. Game time is 2:00pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 1:40pm.
WP: Barrett Astin (5-2)
LP: Lars Huijer (2-3)
SAVE: Chris Razo (3)