GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers completed a three-game sweep of the Great Lakes Loons at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium with a 3-1 win on Saturday afternoon in front of 4,670 fans.
Great Lakes (10-23) scored a run in the first inning and threatened to get a lot more against Wisconsin starting pitcher Christian Taugner. Brandon Montgomery started the game with a double on the first pitch Taugner made. A sacrifice bunt moved Montgomery to third base. Montgomery beat the throw home on a grounder to second off the bat of Romer Cuadrado and the Loons were up 1-0.
The next two Loons hitters had singles to load the bases, but Taugner escaped the inning with a strikeout and a flyout to hold Great Lakes to a single run.
Wisconsin (16-19) scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game. Great Lakes starting pitcher walked Tristen Lutz with one out, made an errant pickoff, and threw a wild pitch to let Lutz get around to third base. KJ Harrison drove in Lutz with a sacrifice fly to even the score.
Taugner went into cruise control over his next five innings. The right-hander allowed two hits after his shaky first inning and at one point he retired 13 in a row to keep the game even while the Wisconsin offense struggled to get anything going.
The game was still tied 1-1 heading to the top of the seventh inning when Jose Cuas took over for Taugner and he allowed the first three batters to reach base on a double, a single, and a hit batsman. Cuas escaped the jam with a flyout to shallow center, a strikeout, and a liner to third that was caught.
The Rattlers were able to cash in on their opportunity in the seventh inning. Devin Hairston walked and Joantgel Segovia was hit by a pitch to start the inning. A balk by Loons reliever Riley Ottesen allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Lutz sent a fly ball deep enough to score Hairston with the go-ahead run. Harrison bought the Rattlers some insurance with a two-out, RBI double to drive in Segovia and the Rattlers were up 3-1.
The Loons loaded the bases again in the top of the eighth inning against Cuas on two walks and a hit batsman. Michael Peterson relieved Cuas to get the final out.
Rodrigo Benoit entered the game for the top of the ninth inning from the Wisconsin bullpen and retired the first two batters he faced. However, Benoit hit Brayan Morales on a 1-2 pitch and walked Cuadrado on a 3-2 pitch to put the tying runs on board. Benoit picked up his third save of the season by getting Jared Walker to popout to center to close out the game in front of the largest home crowd of the season.
The Timber Rattlers have won nine straight games over the Loons. Wisconsin swept a three-game series from Great Lakes at home in 2016, a three-game series at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan in 2017, and this season's three-game series.
Wisconsin finished their first half schedule of twelve games against the Eastern Division with nine wins.
The Rattlers are off on Sunday. They continue their long homestand when they return to action on Monday night with a game against the Beloit Snappers. Wisconsin has named Alec Bettinger (1-3, 5.04) as their starting pitcher on for game one of the five-game series. Game time is 6:35pm.
Monday is another Qdoba Q*Monday with NASH FM 99.5 & 104.9. Purchase an entrée at any Qdoba location in Appleton, Neenah, or Oshkosh for lunch on Monday and receive a ticket to any Monday home game during the 2018 season.
If you can't make it out to the ballpark, there are several ways to follow the action. The radio broadcast is on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Pregame Show at 6:15pm. The broadcast is also available on the Tune In and IHeart Radio apps. Subscribers to MiLB.tv can watch the game over the internet.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.