CLINTON, IA - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Clinton LumberKings were both on a roll as the teams entered their most important series of the 2019 season on Saturday night at NelsonCorp Field. Both teams had won four in a row and six of their last seven games. It was Wisconsin to pull away late to stay on a roll with a 4-1 win in game one of a four-game series between two teams battling for a second-half Western Division playoff spot.
The Rattlers (66-64 overall, 35-26 second half) continued their recent trend of scoring first. David Fry and Jesús Lujano started the second inning with singles. Chad McClanahan cracked a double to the gap in left-center to score Fry and Wisconsin was up 1-0. Wisconsin has scored first in eight consecutive games.
Clinton (71-60, 27-24) responded in the bottom of the third inning on a lead-off double by Marcos Rivera. Christopher Torres followed with an infield single to put runners on the corners. Bubba Hollins singled to left to score Rivera with the tying run. Wisconsin starter Nick Bennett stopped retired the next three batters in the inning to keep the game even at 1-1.
Evan Edwards doubled with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Bennett stranded him on base with a groundout and a strikeout.
Wisconsin put the first two runners on in the top of the fifth inning. Yeison Coca walked and Korry Howell singled to start the frame, but Clinton starter Remey Reed escaped the jam to keep the game tied.
Yeison Coca singled and stole second with one out for the Rattlers in the top of the seventh inning. Howell followed by lacing a line drive to the gap in right-center for an RBI triple and the Rattlers were up 2-1 on Howell's third hit of the evening.
Thomas Dillard padded Wisconsin's lead later in the seventh with a two-out, RBI single.
Wisconsin reliever Tyler Gillies, who entered the game in relief of Bennett to get the final out of the sixth, worked through a jam in the bottom of the seventh as he stranded runners at the corners with a strikeout.
The Rattlers picked up an insurance run in the top of the eighth. Fry walked, was bunted to second, took third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch to put the Rattlers up 4-1.
Jake Cousins took over for Gillies in the bottom of the eighth and worked a 1-2-3 frame with two strikeouts. Cousins closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth by striking out the side in order for his second save of the season with the Rattlers.
The trio of Wisconsin pitchers combined for fifteen strikeouts in the game.
In the second-half, Western Division playoff race, Wisconsin trails Clinton by two games for the Wild Card. The division-leading Kane County Cougars lost 8-2 to the Quad Cities River Bandits at Modern Woodmen Park. That result means that the Rattlers also picked up a game on the Cougars and are just three games out of first. There are nine games left in the regular season.
Game two of the series is Sunday afternoon at NelsonCorp Field. Adam Hill (6-8, 4.01) gets the nod as the starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Clinton will counter with Jake Walters (5-4, 2.79) as their starting pitcher. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00pm. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM and the TuneIn Radio app starting with the Papa John's Pizza Pregame Show at 1:40pm.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.