It was a wild night in Appleton, WI, as the Wisconsin Timber Ratters jumped out to a 5-0 lead, only to watch the Clinton LumberKings rally to tie it in the top of the seventh. However, Brandon Diaz came through in the bottom half of the inning, and the club held on for the 6-5 win.
The game featured Pat Peterson facing off against Wisconsin Timber Rattlers starter Devin Williams. Both pitchers came up big through the first three innings. Peterson allowed two singles and a hit batsman through the first three frames, keeping the Timber Rattlers from mounting any kind of rally.
Williams was on fire through the first six innings for Wisconsin. He gave up a two-out single in the first and a hit by pitch to lead off the second, then retired the next 10 batters in a row. His streak came to an end when he issued a one-out walk in the fifth. He gave up a single in the sixth, and that would be all the right-hander would allow. Williams finished with 6 innings pitched. He gave up 2 hits, no walks and no runs. He also struck out 7 in the 91-pitch performance.
While their starter was coming up big, the offense staked Williams to a five-run lead, scoring one in the fourth and four in the fifth. In the fourth Peterson retired the first two batters, but then gave up a line drive home run by Sthervin Matos over the left field wall to stake Wisconsin to the 1-0 lead. It was Matos’ sixth home run of the season.
In the fifth, Natanael Mejia got the rally started when he walked with one out. Mitch Meyer followed with a single that brought Mejia all the way around to score on a throwing error by the shortstop. After Diaz walked, Francisco Castillo singled into center field, scoring Meyer and moving Diaz to third. Two batters later Dustin DeMuth singled, scoring both runners and making it a 5-0 lead.
That seemed like an insurmountable lead by the way that Williams was pitching, but he came out in the seventh and the LumberKings took advantage right away. Tyler Linehan relieved and issued a walk to Chantz Mack to start the frame. Estarlyn Morales beat out a ground ball for a single and Joseph DeCarlo’s fly ball moved both runners into scoring position. A wild pitch brought Mack home to make it 5-1. Taylor Zeutenhorst drew a walk and two batters later Gianfranco Wawoe walked as well. In between the walks, Linehan had thrown another wild pitch that scored Morales. Following the walk Linehan was done.
Zach Cooper came into the game with two men on and two outs. Arby Fields was the hitter, and he took a Cooper offering and crushed it over the right field fence for a three-run homer to tie the game. It was his third home run of the season.
Osmer Morales took over for Clinton in the bottom of the inning. His team had all the momentum and needed him to deliver a big inning. The reliever got the first out, but Diaz came through with a solo shot to give the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers back the lead. For the Wisconsin centerfielder, he finished 3-3 with 2 runs, a walk, an RBI and that big home run.
Cooper stayed in the game after giving up the three-run shot, looking to close this thing out. He allowed two batters to reach in the eighth with just one out, however, the right-hander retired the final two batters to preserve the lead.
In the ninth he gave up a lead-off single, but retired the final three batters to end the game. Cooper (1-1) pitched 2.1, allowing 2 hits, a walk, and an earned run. He struck out 3. Morales (0-5) took the loss.
The victory moves the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to 2-1 to start out the second half of the Midwest League season. These two teams will meet again tomorrow, as Lukas Schiraldi (4-4, 4.54) goes for Clinton against Cy Sneed (3-7, 2.78). Game time is 1:05 local time.
By Robert Pannier