Rattlers One Win From Title

APPLETON, Wisc. - The Rattlers found every way to beat the South Bend Silver Hawks and send the Midwest League Championship to a decisive game five. Wisconsin used a combination of power hitting, small ball and clutch defense to grab the 11-6 victory over the visiting Eastern Division Champions.

"Once you get a lead early in the game it allows you to the opportunity to be aggressive," said manager Scott Steinmann. "We put ourselves in the position where we could be aggressive."

The Rattlers jumped to an early lead when Jeff Clement doubled in Oswaldo Navarro from first with a line shot off the centerfield wall to make it a 1-0.

But South Bend matched the Rattlers when they tied up with an Orlando Mercado double to right field, which scored Wilkin Castillo from first.

Then in the second inning, Tuiasosopo led off with a single to shallow centerfield and Brandon Green drew a walk. After Josh Womack struck out Brent Johnson ripped a line single to right field scoring Tuiasosopo from second. Navarro drew a walk to load the bases for Clement who hit a sacrifice fly to right scoring Green from third.

The next batter Mike Wilson, who was 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and three driven in, sent Chris Kinsey's 3-1 offering just over the left field wall for a three-run homer, his third of the post season to make it a 6-1 game.

"I thought it was going to go off the wall," said Wilson "But I was happy it went over."

In the fourth inning the Silver Hawks battled back, after Castillo struck out South Bend picked up three consecutive hits. The ninth batter Jereme Millons drove in Mercado with a line drive to left field to make it a 6-2 game.

Nottingham managed to get the Rattlers out with minimal damage when he got Emilo Bonifacio to ground into a double play to end the inning.

South Bend continued chipping away at the Rattler lead when they added another run in the fifth inning when Murillo hit into a fielder's choice scoring Alberto Gonzalez from third. The Rattlers got out of it when Bonifacio grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The Rattlers struck back in the fifth inning when Wilson singled and Hubbard walked. Colton hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Tuiasosopo, who was 2-4, hit a double to centerfield scoring Wilson and Hubbard to make it and an 8-3 game. "That felt good, I was nice and relaxed. I got a fastball, a good pitch to hit in the beginning of the count," said Tuiasosopo.

Womack led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and advanced to second with a stolen base. Johnson then scored Womack with a double to right to make it 9-3.

The Silver Hawks looked poised in the seventh inning when Murillo drove in Nicolas with a double off the wall in right to make it a 9-4 game. That run scored was it for Nottingham who was effective but not spectacular in 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits. The lefthander also got a little help from the Rattlers defense that turned some nice double plays.

"He can throw a lot of ground balls and we have a good defense out there that can handle it," said Steinmann. "Everybody in the infield is a very good defensive player and I think it showed by helping out with some of the big plays that we had."

The Rattlers offense wasn't finished though. In the bottom of the seventh inning they added a couple of runs. Colton drove in Wilson with a grounder to left and Hubbard scored from third on a grounder to third base to make it 11-4.

Blanco worked through the eighth inning. Donny Langdon came on in the top of the ninth and got in a little trouble after allowing a leadoff double and two walks to load the bases. That caused Steinmann to bring in Justin Jordan, who allowed a couple of runs but hung on to preserve the win for the Rattlers.

The win means both teams will return for game five at Fox Cities Stadium, where the Rattlers are undefeated in the post season. Cibney Bello will take the hill for the Rattles against Stephen Jackson for the Silver Hawks. The game tomorrow will start at 1:05pm.

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