Losing steaks can be tough to break, but sometimes all you need is a hot pitcher and a little offense. For the Appleton Timber Rattlers, Ryan Feierabend was just that pitcher. The 18-year-old left hander helped snap a five-game losing streak this week with six innings of solid work Tuesday night against the Beloit Snappers. Feierabend allowed only three runs on three hits and struck out five on his way to another early season victory.
Feierabend has had a solid April, going 3-1 with a 3.74 ERA in four starts. His only loss came in his first start on April 10 when he left the game in the second inning after giving up five runs on five hits and four walks. The young pitcher chalks up the rocky start to first-game jitters and that seems to be the case; he only allowed one run and eight hits in the next two starts combined.
Coming into Tuesday's game, Feierabend tried to avoid taking on the pressure of stopping the team's slide.
"If you put too much pressure on yourself you could make things worse," Feierabend said. "I just try to stick to the plan and not get over excited."
Feierabend stuck to the plan set out in the scouting report and stayed away from throwing the fastballs the Beloit batters were looking for. Instead, he relied on his change-up and slider. While both pitches have been solid for him, Feierabend is still working on throwing his curveball more consistently for strikes and getting ahead of hitters early in the count.
The 6-foot-3 lefty has also had the advantage of run support. In his three wins, Timber Rattler batters have generated 16 runs on 23 hits compared to only four runs scored by the opposition.
On Tuesday night his teammates knocked in seven runs, including a three-run homer by Michael Cox, and the team was able to leave Beloit with a win. Finally.
"We would have liked to have swept Beloit or won the series but it was nice to get a win before going to the next place," Feierabend said.
The Timber Rattlers are at the end of their first extensive road trip involving 8 games in 9 games and 790 miles of travel. So far the team has held up well mentally, if not on the playing field.
"No one wants to sit on a bus for five to six hours at a time but it is going good," Feierabend said.
The Timber Rattlers will be rewarded in May when they play 16 of 20 games at their home park Fox Cities Stadium.
Where is the Luck:
The Timber Rattler starters are pitching well as a whole, but with different results than Feierabend. Left-hander Thomas Oldham has the best ERA at 1.42 in his four starts but is currently 1-0. Brandon Moorhead leads the team in strikeouts with 25 in four starts but is only 2-1. But right-handed starter Nibaldo Acosta has had the most unfortunate start. He was 0-3 in his starts before his first victory on Thursday night. Acosta has allowed only seven runs in 27.2 innings for a 2.28 ERA.
Notes: Wisconsin lead-off man Josh Womack seems to have been rejuvenated by April 20's rain-out. Following the day off, Womack reeled off an eight-game hit streak in which he went 13 for 31 with three doubles, two triples and two home runs. Womack also scored at least one run each of those games and was able to extend that streak to nine games Thursday. The M's second round pick in 2002, Womack is currently third in the Midwest league in runs scored with 18. No stranger to hit streaks, he put together an eight-game streak for Everett last year and a nine-game streak for Peoria in 2002. The streak boosted his batting average from .163 to .270 in just seven days… The T-Rats and the Fort Wayne Wizards almost played the equivalent of a double-header Friday night when the second game of the series went 17 innings. The Timber Rattlers took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 14th but the Wizards were able to tie things up in the bottom half of the inning and keep the game going before Wisconsin took the lead for good with three runs in the top of the 17th. The two teams used a total of 14 different pitchers over the course of the 4 hour and 53 minute game.
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