COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers built an early 5-0 lead and beat the West Michigan Whitecaps 5-3 Friday Night at Fifth Third Ballpark. Brett Lawrie drove in a pair of runs and Evan Frederickson tossed five scoreless innings for the Rattlers. But, in the end, a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth was overturned and Jim Henderson earned his twelfth save of the season.
Sean McCraw and Brett got the Timber Rattlers (22-26) the lead. First, John Delaney reached on a double to start the third inning. He would score on a single by McCraw. After a hit batsman and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with two outs, Lawrie laced a single to right to drive in both runners for the 3-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly by Juan Sanchez in the top of the fifth inning pushed the Rattler lead to 5-0.
Frederickson worked through a scoreless fifth inning and turned the game over to Wily Peralta. Frederickson scattered five hits, two walks, and a hit batsman over his five innings. He also managed to sprinkle in four strikeouts.
Chris Dennis provided the Rattlers with another run in the top of the eighth inning. His two-out, RBI double to right-center made the score 5-0.
Peralta, the reigning Midwest League Pitcher of the Week, left with a runner at second and two outs in the bottom of the eighth after striking out the final batter he faced.
However, West Michigan (31-16) does not have the best record in the Midwest League for nothing. Brandon Ritchie relieved Peralta and gave up an RBI double to Avisail Garcia, and RBI double to Joe Bowen, and an RBI single to Gustavo Nunez to make the score 5-3.
Rattler closer Jim Henderson took over for Ritchie and gave up a single to Brent Wyatt. That single put runners at first and third and brought the lead run to the plate in the form of Brandon Douglas. Henderson got Douglas to fly out to center to end the inning.
In the ninth things got very interesting. Henderson retired the first two batters he faced. But, he walked Billy Nowlin to keep the inning alive. Henderson got ahead of Ben Guez 1-2, but left a pitch just a bit too far out over the plate. Guez hit a high, deep drive down the left field line that was hooking to the corner.
The home plate umpire initially called the ball fair for a game tying home run. The Rattlers disagreed...vehemently. The umpires conferred and after explaining the call to Whitecaps manager Joe DePastino, ruled the ball foul.
Guez returned to the batter's box and flew out to left to end the game.
Game two of the series -- and 11 of Wisconsin's road trip -- is scheduled for Saturday night. Cody Adams (1-4, 4.58) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Rattlers. Luke Putkonen (3-1, 2.72) is set to go for the Whitecaps. Game time is 6:00pm CDT.