GRAND CHUTE, WI - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers received another fine pitching performance from Nelson Hernández and just enough offense to hold off the Great Lakes Loons 4-3 on Thursday night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Great Lakes (10-21) took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Brandon Montgomery reached on a bunt single with one out to snap a streak of ten straight batters retired by Hernández. Jared Walker put the Loons in front with a double off the top of the wall in right.
The Rattlers (14-19) responded in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead - with a little help from the Loons. Tristen Lutz started the inning with a single and he stole second. Payton Henry singled to drive in Lutz with the tying run.
Henry was still at first base with two outs when Zach Clark singled to right and Henry raced for third base. Clark broke for second with Gabriel García at the plate in an attempt to draw a throw from Loons catcher Gersel Pitre. However, Pitre bluffed his throw to second and Henry broke for the plate only to find himself in no-man's land. The Rattlers caught a break as Pitre's pickoff throw hit Henry and deflected to foul territory. Henry scored and the Rattlers were up 2-1.
Wisconsin added to their lead in the fifth inning. Devin Hairston drew a two-out walk to extend the inning to Joantgel Segovia and the hottest hitter on the Rattlers cashed in - with a little help from the Loons. Segovia lined a single to right to move his hitting streak to thirteen games. The good fortune continued as the right fielder missed the ball and Hairston scored all the way from first for a 3-1 advantage.
Hairston gave the Rattlers and insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning with an RBI single for a three-run lead. It turned out that Wisconsin needed the insurance.
Hernández left the game after seven innings. He allowed one run on three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts to put himself in position for his fifth win of the season. This game was to be his fourth straight win, but it was not to be easy.
Robbie Hitt took over for Hernández to start the top of the eighth and got into immediate trouble. Mitchell Hansen started the inning with a double. Pitre was next and he singled home Hansen. Moises Perez followed with a bunt single and Brayan Morales bunted both runners into scoring position. Montgomery lined a single to center to score Pitre and the Wisconsin lead was down to one run.
Montgomery stole second, but Hitt got the second out of the inning with a strikeout and that allowed the Rattlers to walk Walker intentionally to load the bases. Hitt ended the eighth-inning threat by striking out Starling Heredia.
Wisconsin loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but failed to add to their lead and game went to the ninth with the Rattlers clinging to a 4-3 lead.
Rodrigo Benoit entered from the Wisconsin bullpen and hit lead-off batter Marcus Chiu. Then, he walked Hansen. Pitre tried to bunt both runners into scoring position and first baseman KJ Harrison foiled the attempt with a strong throw to third to get Chiu for the first out. Benoit got the second out of the inning with a strikeout.
The Loons pulled a double steal with Morales at the plate and they had the tying and lead runs in scoring position. Those runners were left stranded as Benoit struck out Morales to end the game.
Game two of the series is Friday night. Dylan File (4-1, 3.86) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Max Gamboa (0-2, 7.02) is set to go for the Loons. Game time is 6:35pm.
The first bobblehead giveaway of this homestand is Eric Sogard, who made a rehabilitation appearance with the Rattlers in 2017. The first 1,000 fans to attend this game will receive a bobblehead courtesy of Jorgensen, Schulz EyeCare Center. Arty's Old Fashioned drinks will be available to fans 21 and over for $3 on an Arty's Old Fashioned Friday with WIXX. Children 14 and under may participate in Kids Run the Bases thanks to Menasha Corporation after the game.
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.