CLINTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers held on for a much-needed, 4-3 victory over the Clinton LumberKings on Friday Night at Ashford University Field. Aaron Ashby struck out twelve over six innings as Wisconsin's starting pitcher, but the Rattlers needed a big two-run single from Chad McClanahan to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning and to survive a late Clinton rally in the ninth.
The Rattlers (62-68 overall, 31-30 second half) scored an unearned run in the first inning on a couple of miscues by the LumberKings. An error allowed Wisconsin lead-off batter Eddie Silva to reach second base to start the game. He was at third with two outs when a wild pitch by Clinton starting pitcher Scott Boches allowed him to score for the 1-0 lead.
Clinton (66-65, 27-34) tied the game in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI double by Johnny Adams.
KJ Harrison doubled to start the top of the sixth inning. Gilbert Lara followed with a double that dropped just out of the reach of centerfielder Ariel Sandoval and Harrison scored to put the Rattlers up 2-1.
Ashby was rolling after allowing the run in the second inning. He would only give up two more hits after the second inning and no Clinton runner made it past first with Ashby on the hill. The final seven outs recorded by the Wisconsin defense were strikeouts by Ashby. His dozen strikeouts were the most by a Wisconsin pitcher since Jon Perrin struck out 14 in a game against Great Lakes on April 26, 2016.
The Rattlers had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the seventh when Silva doubled and went to third on a wild pitch with one out. Darren Seferina added to the rally by drawing a walk, but Clinton reliever Randy Bell struck out the next two batters to keep the score at 2-1.
Michael Petersen relieved Ashby to start the bottom of the seventh and got ahead of Sandoval with two quick strikes, but lost him to a walk. The next two batters were retired on soft grounders to the mound that allowed Sandoval to get to third base. Petersen had two strikes on Connor Hoover, but the Clinton third baseman blooped a single into left-center to send Sandoval home with the tying run.
Wisconsin's offense responded in the top of the eighth. Lara singled and Zach Clark walked to start the inning. Payton Henry moved both runners into scoring position with a bunt to set up McClanahan.
The left-handed hitter came through for the Rattlers by singling past the first baseman to drive in both runs and the Rattlers had a 4-2 lead.
Clayton Andrews gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, but retired the next three batters to maintain the lead.
Christian Meister entered the game for Wisconsin in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game and he retired the first two batters. The 27th out was a little tougher to get. A hit batsman and a single put runners at the corners. Meister ran the count full to the Matt Sanders, who singled to right to score the runner from third and send the tying run around to third.
There was no messing around with Zach Scott. Meister struck out Scott on three pitches to put the game in the Wisconsin win column
The Timber Rattlers received plenty of help in the second half Western Division Wild Card race. Kane County, the Wild Card leaders, lost 3-1 at Cedar Rapids. Beloit, the team between the Rattlers and Kane County, lost 10-0 and 3-1 at Peoria. Kane County is 33-27 and Beloit is 32-28. Kane County's lead over Beloit is at one game. The Rattlers trail Kane County by 2-1/2 games. All three teams have nine games remaining in the regular season.
Game two of the series is Saturday night Wilfred Salaman (0-2, 7.71) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton has named Tyler Jackson (1-2, 5.79) as their starter. Game time is 6:30pm. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Pregame Show at 6:10pm. The broadcast is also available on the Tune In and IHeart Radio apps.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.