Rattlers are a hit in 2011 opener

Nick Shaw steps on home plate after hitting his first professional home run. Shaw's blast was in the fifth inning of Wisconsin's 9-3 win over Kane County on Opening Night of the 2011 season. (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | April 7, 2011 7:29 PM ET

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GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers cracked out 14 hits and rode a strong starting performance by Austin Ross for a 9-3 win over the Kane County Cougars at Time Warner Cable Field on Thursday night.  Nick Shaw had three hits, including his first professional home run, scored three runs, and drove in a pair to pace the Wisconsin offense.  Ross struck out six and allowed two hits over six innings for the victory.

Ross retired the first two batters in the top of the first inning.  Then, Brett Eibner homered to left in his first professional at bat.  The second round pick of the Kansas City Royals out of the University of Arkansas put Kane County (0-1) in front 1-0.  But, it was Ross, a product of Louisiana State University and a Southeastern Conference rival, who had the last laugh.

The Rattler bats warmed up in a hurry.  Shaw drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first after falling behind Kane County starter Leonel Santiago 0-2.  Reggie Keen doubled down the left field line and a bobble in left field let Shaw score and Keen to take third.  Cody Hawn's RBI grounder send Keen home with the go ahead run.  Later in the inning, Robbie Garvey doubled high off the wall in left to drive in Jason Rogers to give Wisconsin a 3-1 lead.

Ross took to the hill in the top of the second and proceeded to throw strike after strike.  He retired the side in order in the second and third.  He pitched around an error in the top of the fourth and got a 6-4-3 double play after a leadoff single in the top of the fifth inning.

Wisconsin (1-0) added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Shaw lifted a high fly down the right field line and the ball cleared the fence for Shaw's first home run as a professional.  Jason Rogers knocked in a run with a groundout and Mike Walker doubled off the wall in center to score the third run of the frame to put the Rattlers up 6-1.

Ross concluded his night with a 1-2-3 top of the sixth inning.  His line in his Midwest League debut was six innings pitched, one run, two hits, no walks, and six strikeouts.

The offense rewarded the performance of their starting pitcher with three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.  The third Kane County error of the night allowed Carlos George to score all the way from first after a bunt single by Franklin Romero.  Shaw drove in Romero with a single and would score on another RBI grounder by Rogers.

Kane County took advantage of Tyler Cravy in the top of the seventh inning.  Cravy walked the leadoff batter and allowed four hits in the inning.  Back-to-back RBI singles by Angel Franco and Ryan Jenkins with the bases loaded cut Wisconsin's lead to 9-3.  Cravy got out of the inning with a flyball to shallow right and a diving stop by George.  The Rattlers shortstop stopped a grounder ticketed for center and turned it into an inning ending force out at second.

Greg Holle pitched a scoreless eighth and a scoreless ninth to close out the game.

Wisconsin and Kane County continue the four game series on Friday night.  Matt Miller is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Rattlers.  Sugar Ray Marimon is set to go for the Cougars.  Game time is 6:35pm.

Friday night is a North Shore Bank Family Night.  Children 12 and under eat free with a paid admission.  Children 14 and under get to run the bases after the game.

If you can't make it to the game, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or www.timberrattlers.com starting with the pregame show at 6:15pm.

                        R    H    E
KC        100 000 200 - 3    6    3
WI        300 033 00x - 9    14   1

Click here for boxscore

HOME RUNS:
KC:

Brett Eibner (1st, 1st inning off Austin Ross, 0 on, 2 out)

WI:
Nick Shaw (1st, 5th inning off Leonel Santiago, 0 on, 0 out)

WP: Austin Ross (1-0)
LP: Leonel Santiago (0-1)

TIME: 2:44
ATTN: 3,234

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

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