CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers got out to a fast start against the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Friday night at Perfect Game Field. But, the Rattlers could not hold the pace. Leads of 4-0 and 5-1 slipped away from Wisconsin and the Kernels would score three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 5-5 tie on the way to an 8-5 win.
Wisconsin (41-37 overall, 3-5 second half) grabbed the early lead with a run in the first inning. Nick Shaw drew his league leading 52nd walk of the season with one out. Mike Walker drilled a double to left-center and the Rattlers had a 1-0 lead. Wisconsin loaded the bases with one out, but did not score again in the inning.
The Rattlers had two out with none on in the top of the second inning. Then, TJ Mittelstaedt doubled. Shaw followed with a bloop single to right the sent Mittelstaedt home. Walker was next and he sent the first pitch of the at bat just over the wall in left for a two run homer. Walker's thirteenth home run of the season made the score 4-0 in favor of the Rattlers.
Cedar Rapids (35-43, 3-5) got a run in the bottom of the second inning on a single by Carlos Lugo. It was the first of three hits on the night for the Kernels catcher.
The teams traded runs in the third. A sacrifice fly by Chris Dennis scored Cody Hawn from third base in the top of the inning. The Kernels got a run in the bottom of the third on an RBI grounder by Ricky Alvarez.
Rattlers starting pitcher Del Howell retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the fourth inning. But, three straight singles, the final one by Chris Giovinazzo, plated a run to make the score 5-3. Howell walked the next batter to load the bases. That ended Howell's day.
Adrian Rosario relieved Howell and struck out Jeremy Cruz on three pitches to escape the inning.
The Kernels cut into the Rattlers lead with another run in the bottom of the fifth. Ricky Alvarez reached on an infield single to start the inning. It took a two-out triple from Wes Hatton to get Alvarez in to make the score 5-4.
Lugo doubled to start the bottom of the sixth inning, but Rosario held him right there as he retired the next three batters to keep the Rattlers up a run.
But, the Kernels managed to tie the game in bottom of the seventh against reliever Brian Garman. Alvarez doubled to start the inning and was sacrificed to third base. The Rattlers infield was in and Garman got a grounder to first from Brandon Decker. But, Cody Hawn bobbled the ball and not only did Alvarez score, but Decker also reached first. The next two batters also reached on a single and a walk to load the bases.
Stosh Wawrzasek relieved Garman and struck out the next two batters to strand all three runners and kleep the game tied 5-5.
But the Kernels took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cruz was at second with two outs when Justin Bass singled to center on a 3-2 pitch to get Cruz home for a 6-5 lead.
The single by Bass was followed by a Decker single that put runners on the corners. Hatton followed that with another triple. This one drove in two and the Kernels had an 8-5 lead.
Daniel Tillman entered in the top of the ninth. He gave up a two out single to Hawn, but retired the Rattlers without giving up a run and picked up his fifth save.
The final game of the series is Saturday night at Perfect Game Field. Matt Miller (2-4, 4.99) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Max Russell is set to start for the Kernels. Game time is 6:35pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:15pm.
Mike Walker (13th, 1 on in 2nd inning off PJ Jang, 2 out)
WP: Dakota Robinson (4-1)
LP: Stosh Wawrzasek (1-3)
SAVE: Daniel Tillman (5)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.