The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had to feel pretty good about themselves after opening up their four-game series with the Burlington Bees by winning the first two games. Unfortunately, the momentum did not last as the Bees took the last two games of the series, including Thursday night’s game, 6-3.
Devin Williams started for Wisconsin, and he struggled with his command a bit in the first three innings. Caleb Adams drew a one out walk for Burlington in the bottom of the first, stole second base and scored on a double by Zach Houchins. In the second inning it was like déjà vu all over again. Williams walked Wade Wass to lead-off the inning. Wass then stole his first base of the season, and scored on a double by Juan Moreno. In the third Adams began the inning with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Houchins followed two batters later with a single that scored Adams and the Bees were quickly ahead 3-0.
Keynan Middleton was pitching quite well for the Bees through the first three innings. He retired the first five batters of the game, before giving up a two out single in the second to Francisco Castillo. In the third the Timber Rattlers got a one out single by Brandon Diaz following by a walk by Jake Gatewood, but Middleton remained poised, retiring the final two batters of the inning.
In the fourth the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers finally got on the scoreboard. Elvis Rubio began the inning by hitting his seventh double of the season into the right field gap. Dustin DeMuth followed with a walk, and Carlos Leal moved both runners up 90-feet with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Francisco Castillo hit a fly ball to right field that scored Rubio, and Wisconsin was within two runs.
In the fifth they would shave that lead a little thinner. With one out, Gatewood drilled his second home run of the season over the left-center field wall to make it 3-2. The Timber Rattlers were starting to make things very interesting, but Burlington was ready to answer.
With Josh Uhen pitching for Wisconsin, Moreno led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. One out later Andrew Daniel singled scoring Moreno. That brought Houchins to the plate, who continued his Timber Rattlers killing ways, lining a ball into the gap in right field that he legged out for a triple. That made the score 5-2, and seemed to suck the life out of the Wisconsin dugout.
In the sixth Burlington added another run. An error by the second baseman with two outs allowed Fran Whitten to reach. Angel Ventura, who relieved for Uhen, then threw back-to-back wild pitches, moving Whitten to third. Moreno then singled to left field scoring Whitten and increasing the lead to four runs.
After giving up the two runs, Middleton settled down and retired the side in the sixth. That was his last inning. The Burlington starter left after six, allowing 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 5.
In came Jake Jewell, who proved to be a real gem for the Bees on this night. He pitched two innings, allowing just a hit and walk and, most importantly, keeping the Timber Rattlers off the scoreboard.
After giving up the run, Ventura pitched quite well for Wisc0nsin. He pitched 3 innings, allowing 3 hits and an earned run. He also struck out 5.
In the top of the ninth, Burlington turned to Eduardo Paredes to finish out the game. He retired the first batter, then gave up a single to Castillo. A force play put Greg McCall on at first, and Diaz followed by doubling into right field to score McCall and cut the deficit to three. That would be as close as Wisconsin would get however. Gatewood struck out to end the game, and the Burlington Bees were the winners, 6-3.
Middleton (2-1) earned the victory, while Williams (0-2) remained winless.
Houchins proved to be the Burlington Bees player with the biggest sting. He finished 3-4 with 3 RBI. Moreno also had 3 hits, scored a run and had 2 RBI.
The Timber Rattlers were led by Diaz, who went 3-4 with an RBI. Rubio went 2-4 and Castillo was 2-2 with a walk.
With the four game series concluded, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers continue their 11-game road trip by moving onto to Kane County. The Timber Rattlers will send Cy Sneed (1-5, 2.21) to the plate against Touki Toussaint (0-0, 2.25). Game time is 6:3o local time.
By Robert Pannier