GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers offense scored six times in the second inning and starting pitcher Matt Miller ran with that lead to a 7-4 victory over the Clinton LumberKings Friday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Miller went 8-1/3 innings, struck out five, and sprinkled eight hits in his longest outing as a professional.
The Rattlers (38-23) took the lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. Max Walla struck out, but reached on a dropped third strike. Jason Rogers followed with a double to move Walla to third base. Nick Ramirez drove in Walla with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Miller retired the first two batters in the top of the second inning. But, a single by Mike Dowd extended the inning for Clinton (23-38). A passed ball got Dowd into scoring position. Then, Dillon Hazlett drove in Dowd with a single to tie the game.
The next two LumberKings batters reached on a single and a walk to load the bases, but Miller escaped without another run scoring when he got Nate Melendres to ground back to the mound to end the inning.
Ben McMahan got the Rattlers rolling in the bottom of the second inning. He singled in his first at bat after being activated off the disabled list earlier on Friday night. An errant pickoff throw sent McMahan around to third base. After Clinton starter Trevor Miller got the first out, a walk to Rafael Neda and a bunt single by Chadwin Stang loaded the bases.
Brandon Macias put the Rattlers in front with an infield single to score McMahan and keep the bases loaded. Walla was next and his two-run single to left-center put the Rattlers up 4-1. Rogers kept the pressure on with an RBI single. Ramirez finished the scoring in the inning with a two-run double for a 7-1 lead.
Miller went into cruise control with the big lead. He retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings. He allowed base runners in the fifth and sixth innings, but both were erased on double plays. Miller was under 90 pitches through eight inning and came back out to try for a complete game.
The right-hander out of the University of Michigan retired the first batter of the top of the ninth inning, but gave up a single and a double to the next two hitters and was removed from the game.
Dowd greeted Rattlers reliever Stephen Peterson with a home run to left-center to make the score 7-4. Peterson would finish the game without allowing any more runs for the LumberKings.
The Timber Rattlers maintained their two game lead atop the Western Division over the Beloit Snappers. Wisconsin also held their five game lead for the second playoff spot in the division over the Kane County Cougars. Kane County beat Quad Cities 4-1 at home and Beloit shutout Burlington 7-0 on the road. There are nine games left in the first half.
Wisconsin starts a big three game series with the Beloit Snappers at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium on Saturday night at 6:35pm. Drew Gagnon (4-1, 2.92) is the scheduled starter for the Timber Rattlers. Beloit has Tyler Jones (0-1, 1.38) as their scheduled starting pitcher.
This pitching matchup is a rematch of a game at Pohlman Field in Beloit on June 3. The Rattlers won that game 3-1 as Gagnon allowed one run over eight innings. Jones gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits over six innings.
Saturday night is Star Wars ™ Night at the ballpark. Movie characters from the Wisconsin Garrison will be on hand to throw out a first pitch and pose for pictures. A silent auction for the special Star Wars ™ jerseys worn by the players during the game will be held with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
It's also a Fly Away Saturday, which means that one lucky fan will win charter airfare for two from Funjet Vacations and Fox World Travel at this game.
There will also be a postgame fireworks display.
If you can't make it out to the game, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:15pm. Saturday's game is also available to MiLB.TV subscribers.
Mike Dowd (1st, 2 on in 9th inning off Stephen Peterson, 1 out)
WP: Matt Miller (4-5),br>
LP: Trevor Miller (3-4)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.