Defense leads the way to fourth straight win

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | April 20, 2012 5:59 PM ET

COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers defeated the West Michigan Whitecaps 8-2 Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark, but there were some big defensive plays that stood out as the Rattlers won their fourth straight game. Jason Rogers had three hits and the duo of Greg Hopkins and Rafael Neda each had big two-run singles late in the game for the Rattlers.

Wisconsin (9-6) took the lead when Rogers scored from third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning. The Rattler appeared to go up 2-0 after a Hopkins sacrifice fly scored Brandon Macias from third on the next pitch. But, the Whitecaps appealed that Macias left early. Plate umpire Carlos Martinez agreed and ruled Macias out.

West Michigan (7-8) came back in the bottom of the fourth inning and tied the game when Brandon Loy scored from third on a passed ball.

The Rattlers took advantage of some sloppy defense by the Whitecaps in the sixth to score three runs. Carlos George started the inning with a single and went to second on an error by catcher Pat Leyland. Rafael Neda drew a walk. Then, Adrian Williams was called on to drop a sacrifice bunt to move the runners along. The Rattlers got more than they expected on the play.

Williams dropped a perfect bunt towards third, but Colin Kaline's throw to first was wild. By the time the ball got back into the infield, George had scored, Neda was on third, and Williams had pulled into second base.

The Rattlers added two runs in the fifth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Yadiel Rivera and Max Walla.

Wisconsin starting pitcher Andy Moye worked his way through a jam in the bottom of the fifth to keep Wisconsin up 4-1. Moye allowed an unearned run on six hits with two strikeouts and turned the game over to Jacob Barnes in the sixth.

Barnes worked a scoreless sixth thanks to Rivera snaring a line drive and turning the hot shot into an inning ending double play. Barnes also ran into a problem in the bottom of the seventh. A walk was sandwiched between two singles to start the inning. Barnes walked Eugenio Suarez to force in a run to score. But, that was all he gave up in the inning.

The Rattlers reliever struck out Dean Green for the first out. Rivera made a leaping backhanded stab of a line drive off the bat of Aaron Westlake for the second out to prevent at least two runs. Barnes got Brandon Loy to ground out sharply to first to end the inning with the Rattlers up 4-2.

Whitecaps reliever Ramon Lebron walked the first three batters in the top of the eighth inning on twelve straight pitches. Melvin Mercedes came on to get the first out with a strikeout, but Hopkins drove in two runs with a single. One out later - after Hopkins had stolen second base - Rafael Neda padded Wisconsin's lead to 8-2 with a two-runs single to left.

The Rattlers defense had one more flourish to end the game. Suarez singled down the right field line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and tried to stretch the hit into a double. Right fielder Max Walla fired a strike to Rivera at second base to cut down Suarez for the final out and make Wisconsin's four game winning streak official.

Timber Rattlers outfielders have seven assists this season. In the last ten games, Wisconsin has committed just two errors.

Game three of the series is Saturday afternoon at 12:00pm CDT. Kevin Shackelford (1-0, 3.00) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Josue Carreno (0-2, 5.54) is set to start for the Whitecaps. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 11:40am.

WP: Andy Moye (1-0)
LP: Wilsen Palacios (0-1)

TIME: 2:55
ATTN: 1,936

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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