GRAND CHUTE, WI - It was like there were two games Sunday at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. The Lansing Lugnuts scored seven runs on seven hits in the first four innings of the game. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers scored five runs on nine hits from the fifth inning to the end of the game. The Rattlers got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Lansing held on for the 7-5 decision.
There were two outs in the top of the first inning when Chris Hawkins reached on an error. K.C. Hobson lined a singled to the gap in right-center and Hawkins raced around the bases to score the run that put Lansing (65-33 overall, 18-11 second half) up 1-0.
Kipp Schutz reached on an error to start the top of the second. Rattlers starting pitcher Mark Williams walked the next batter. A bloop single to right by Chris Schaeffer scored Schutz. Shane Optiz was next and his ground rule double to right-center drove in two runs for a 4-0 Lansing lead.
Williams retired the next five batters in a row, but a two-out double by Schutz in the third was followed by an RBI double off the bat of Andy Fermin to make it 5-0.
Kenny Wilson made it 7-0 with a two-run homer with no outs in the fourth. The Lugnuts wouldn't get another hit in the game.
Wisconsin (57-41, 13-16) struggled against Lansing starting pitcher Justin Nicolino. The Lugnuts lefty retired the first 13 batters he faced in the game. Nick Ramirez got the first hit for the Rattlers with a one out double. But, Nicolino responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
The Rattlers scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lance Roenicke singled and Chadwin Stang doubled to put runners at second and third with one out. Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with two outs, and singled through the middle to drive in two runs.
Nicolino turned the ball over to the bullpen to start the seventh inning and Ramirez greeted Phil Brua with a line drive homer over the left field wall. Rafael Neda, who took over for Lucroy at catcher for the top of the seventh, lined an RBI double to score Brandon Macias in the eighth and cut the Lugnuts lead to three runs.
Ben McMahan hit a solo homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning off Lansing closer Ajay Meyer and Yadiel Rivera had a two out single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Meyer got the final out to end the game and pick up his 27th save of the season.
The final game of the series is Monday night. Jacob Barnes (3-2, 2.91) is the scheduled starter for the Timber Rattlers. Lansing will counter with Blake McFarland (4-3, 4.19). Game time is 7:05pm.
The Timber Rattlers present a 25-cent Hot Dog Special for you at Monday's game. Grab some ballpark franks for just 25 cents.
Monday is also a Qdoba Q*Monday. Fans may receive a free ticket to any Monday home game on the 2012 schedule when they purchase a lunch entrée at the Qdoba by the Fox River Mall on a B104.7 Qdoba Q*Monday. Stop by Qdoba for lunch on Monday and you can get a free ticket to any Monday home game the rest of the season.
If you can't make it to the ballpark you can also catch the action several different ways. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM and timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm. Internet video of the game is available to MiLB.TV subscribers and Sports32 will broadcast the game to Time Warner Cable subscribers.
Kenny Wilson (4th, 1 on in 4th inning off Mark Williams, 0 out)
Nick Ramirez (11th, 0 on in 7th inning off Phil Brua, 0 out)
Ben McMahan (9th, 0 on in 9th inning off Ajay Meyer, 1 out)
WP: Justin Nicolino (6-2)
LP: Mark Williams (5-8)
SAVE: Ajay Meyer (27)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.