It had been a tough start to the 2018 Midwest Season for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, as they had dropped their first two games of the season, including a 10-1 loss in their home opener. They were in need of a big performance from their pitching staff, and got just that as Nelson Hernandez combined with two relievers on an 8-hit performance to defeat the Beloit
The Timber Rattlers took an early lead with runs in each of the first two innings. In the bottom of the first, Xavier Altamirano retired the first two batters he faced, but Tristen Lutz drilled a shot over the right field wall for his first home run of the season. That made it 1-0.
In the bottom of the second, Gabriel Garcia doubled with one out. The Beloit starter retired the second batter of the inning, but Payton Henry came up with a clutch double down the line in left that scored Garcia and the Timber Rattlers were up by two.
The Snappers would respond with single runs in the third and fourth innings to tie the score. In the third, Mickey McDonald led off with a single and moved to second on a stolen base before reaching third on a balk. A sacrifice fly by Austin Beck, his fifth RBI of the season, brought home McDonald to cut the Wisconsin lead in half.
In the fourth, Nelson found himself in some trouble when he gave up back-to-back doubles to start the frame, tying the score. A wild pitch moved the runner to third and there was no one out, but the Wisconsin starter bore down, getting a shallow line out for the first out of the inning, before a force play gunned Skyler Weber at the plate to end the threat.
That proved to be huge, as Gilbert Lara gave the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers back the lead, drilling his first home run of the season to make it 3-2. They would never surrender the lead.
In the seventh, Wisconsin added an insurance run. Franley Mallen, who made the throw to the plate that gunned Weber in the fourth, got the inning started with his first double of the year. A bunt moved him to third and he scored out a ground out by Trever Morrison to make it 4-2.
Hernandez (1-0) pitched a gem for the Timber Rattlers in his first start of the season. The right-hander went 6-innings, allowing 6 hits, a walk, and 2 earned runs. He struck out one. Hernandez threw 86 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Michael Petersen came on in the seventh. He went 2 innings, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out 3. In the ninth, the Timber Rattlers sent Gabe Friese to the hill. He gave up a two out hit, but recorded the final out on a ground ball to preserve his first game of the year.
Gilbert Lara was 2-4 with a run, RBI, and home run for Wisconsin. Austin Beck, Miguel Mercedes, and Skyler Weber each had 2 hits for Beloit.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (1-2) travel to Clinton to take on the LumberKings. Dylan File will go for Wisconsin against Raymond Kerr.
By Robert Pannier