Lowe leads T-Rats to Opening Day win

APPLETON, Wisc. - The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers opened their season on Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Peoria Chiefs. The team treated the 1,310 fans on hand to an Opening Night of defense and hot hitting, which proved beneficial in the end.

While the victory was impressive, it wasn't surprising to Rattlers first-year manager Scott Steinmann.

"Every night we expect to win," said Steinmann "We are going out there every day to prepare ourselves for a ‘W' every night."

The Rattlers started out hot, roughing up Peoria pitcher Matt Webber in the first inning. Asdrubal Cabrera got things started when he drew a walk and later scored on a double by Yung Chi Chen. The next batter, shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo, drove in Chen with a shot up the middle to make it a 2-0 lead.

Wisconsin's bats cooled off later in the game, forcing the team to rely on the solid pitching and clutch defense. Peoria only had five hits in the game, but stranded seven base runners. The visitor's inability to push runs across home plate was largely due to Rattlers' starting pitcher Mark Lowe's impressive performance. Lowe, a fifth-round draft choice last June out of the University of Texas – Arlington, threw six shutout innings and added six strikeouts in his first win of the season.

"I'm just sticking with my game plan and trying to get ahead of hitters", said Lowe. "Setting up the inside corner or outside corner for my relievers to come in and get the job done."

And the Rattler's relievers did just that. The team did not appear to skip a beat when they turned to their bullpen, which allowed just two hits and one run. The Chiefs sole run came in the seventh inning, when shortstop Jose Rios drove in Alberto Garcia with a single, which cut the Rattlers' lead to a run.

The Rattler's bats came alive when Cabrera led off the eighth inning with a double. He was injured, however, on the play and replaced with pinch-runner Jack Arroyo. Later in the inning, Tuiasosopo drove in his second run of the night with a double that scored Arroyo to make it a 3-1 lead.

Wisconsin finished off the game with solid pitching from reliever Eric O'Flaherty, who missed much of last season with an injury when he was used in a starter's role. The left-hander closed out the ninth inning and picked up the save, giving the Timber Rattlers their first victory of the season.

Notes:

  • First Hit: The Timber Rattlers' first hit of the 2005 season was a double down the left field line off the bat of Yung-Chi Chen in the bottom half of the first. The Rattlers third baseman blooped a 0-2 offering just fair inside the line, scoring Asdrubal Cabrera, who had walked.

  • Hot Hands: Chen not only had a nice day at the plate, but was impressive in his field debut as well, getting the start at third base. Chen unofficially had five assists on the evening without committing an error. More than a couple of his chances were hot shots that Chen made look elementary.

  • Tomorrow Night: The Rattlers take on Peoria again in game two of their four-game, opening weekend series. Slated to start the game for the Rattlers is right-hander Aaron Jensen. Sean Gallagher is scheduled to start for the Chiefs.

  • Third Time Around: Thursday night was the first time Rattlers fans got to see Scott Steinmann as the team's manager, but they were in no way unfamiliar with the Wisconsin skipper. The home opener marked his third stint with the club, as Steinmann was the team's catcher during the 1997 season and served as hitting coach in 2000 and 2001.

  • Starting Things Off Right: The first four hitters in the Rattlers lineup (Oswaldo Navarro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yung Chi Chen, and Matt Tuiasosopo) were a combined 7-15, (.466) and accounted for all three RBI and two runs scored on the night.

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