Entering their 11-game road trip the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had the worst record in the Midwest League at 8-28. Six games into the trip they are still the league’s worst, but a 4-2 record is proving the club may be on the upswing. Saturday night’s 5-3 win was proof that things are looking up in Appleton.
The Timber Rattlers plated a run in the top of the first against Kane County Cougars starter Ethan Elias. With one out Monte Harrison doubled into the gap in left field. Two batters later Greg McCall popped one up down the left field line that the third baseman could not reach. It dropped in for a single, scoring Harrison and staking Wisconsin to a 1-0 lead.
Kodi Medeiros started for Wisconsin, and the team had to be buoyed by his last performance, but he would struggle early in this contest. In the bottom of the second Marty Herum belted a line drive single to lead off the inning but was caught stealing for the first out. Joe Munoz struck out and Medeiros looked like he would simply retire the side without issue, but three straight hits by Henry Castillo, Stryker Trahan and Dane McFarland tied the game.
In the third the Cougars would take the lead. Colin Bray singled with one out, moved to second on a ground out, and then stole third. Herum followed with a single to score Bray and give Kane County the lead.
In the top of the fifth the Timber Rattlers tied the game again. Dustin DeMuth singled to begin the inning and moved to third two batters later on a single by Alan Sharkey. Greg McCall plated DeMuth with a sacrifice fly and the game was knotted at two.
The game remained tied until the top of the seventh when Wisconsin would jump out in front. Monte Harrison was hit by a pitch to begin the frame and Sharkey walked to put runners at first and second with no one out. McCall dropped a perfect bunt, and Harrison made a head’s up play coming all the way around to score. Francisco Castillo followed with a single to bring home Sharkey and it was 4-2 Timber Rattlers.
In the eighth Wisconsin would get on the board again. A Tucker Neuhaus single started the inning, and he would reach second on a balk. Elvis Rubio followed with a single that put runners at the corners with no outs. With DeMuth at the plate, Cougars reliever Luis Ramirez uncorked a wild pitch scoring Neuhaus and it was 5-2 visitors.
In the bottom of the eighth the Cougars got one back. Cody Regis singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and moved to second on a single by Marty Herum. Two batters later Castillo hit a sacrifice fly that scored Regis to make it 5-3. That is as close as Kane County would get.
Luke Curtis (3-1) earned the victory for Wisconsin. David Burkhalter recorded his second save of the season. Steve Hathaway (0-1) took the loss.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers got 12 hits on the evening, led by Castillo, Leal, and Rubio, who each had two hits. Kane County got three hits from Herum.
These two teams square off again tomorrow. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will send Luis Ortega (0-3, 5.40) to the mound. The Kane County Cougars counter with Brad Keller (1-4, 3.09).
By Robert Pannier