GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers defeated the Clinton LumberKings 4-2 on Sunday night to sweep the Midwest League Western Division Finals two games to none. Sunday's win at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium sent Wisconsin to the Midwest League Championship Series. Mark Williams tossed eight strong innings and the Rattlers offense did just enough to move the team to the Finals for the first time as an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Clinton scored two runs in the top of the first inning off Williams. Jamal Austin doubled to start the game. Dan Paolini bunted to move Austin to third, but got more than that. The throw to first was wild and Austin scored while Paolini wound up at second base. One out later, Ramon Morla doubled off the wall in center and Paolini scored for a 2-0 lead.
Nick Ramirez responded in the bottom of the first inning. Wisconsin had a runner at second with two outs when Ramirez blasted a long home run over the wall in center to tie the game. The round tripper was the second of the playoffs for Ramirez, who hit sixteen in the regular season.
Adrian Williams put the Rattlers in front in the bottom of the fourth. Cameron Garfield and Max Walla had consecutive singles with one out, but Garfield was still at second and Walla was still at first with two outs. Williams, the Rattlers second baseman, smacked the first pitch of his at bat through the middle to drive in Garfield to for a 3-2 lead.
Wisconsin added an insurance run in the seventh inning. Rafael Neda started the inning with a single and was sacrificed to second base by Adrian Williams. Brandon Macias followed with a single to right. Neda ran right through manager Matt Erickson's stop sign in the coaching box at third base and beat the throw to the plate for a 4-2 lead.
Mark Williams settled in after the first inning. He didn't allow another run in the game. Williams struck out five, allowed five hits, and did not walk a batter over his eight innings. In five games during the 2012 playoffs, Rattlers starting pitchers have allowed five earned runs in 38 innings pitched.
Santo Manzanillo took over for Williams in the top of the ninth and retired the LumberKings in order to close out the Western Division Finals.
Wisconsin is making their fourth trip to the Midwest League Championship Series. The Timber Rattlers have made it to the League Finals three other times since they came into existence in 1995. Wisconsin finished as the runner-up in 1996, 1999, and 2005.
The last time an Appleton team won the Midwest League pennant happened in 1984. The Appleton Foxes won the third of their three straight MWL titles that season.
Wisconsin is in the 2012 finals, but they do not know which Eastern Division team they will face. The Lake County Captains and the Fort Wayne Wizards will play Game Three of the best-of-three Eastern Finals on Monday night at Lake County's Classic Park. The winner of that game will be the opponent for the Rattlers in the Midwest League Finals.
Wisconsin's next game is Game One of the best-of-five Championship Series on Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium. Game time is 6:35pm. The Timber Rattlers will also host Game Two on Thursday afternoon at 12:05pm.
Tickets for Game One and Game Two will be on sale Monday morning at 9:00am. Fans may purchase tickets in person at the Timber Rattlers box office or by calling (800) WI-TIMBER or (920) 733-4152.
Nick Ramirez (2nd, 1 on in 1st inning off Seon-Gi Kim, 2 out)
WP: Mark Williams (1-0)
LP: Seon-Gi Kim (0-1)
SAVE: Santo Manzanillo (1)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.