Timber Rattlers Held Scoreless in Season Finale

APPLETON, Wisc. - A storybook season came to an end for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Saturday afternoon. The Rattlers bats couldn't get a piece of the South Bend starter Steven Jackson, falling 4-0 in the final game of the five-game Midwest League Championship Series.

"We just didn't swing the bats like we're capable of and you have to give credit to their pitchers because they did a great job," said Jeff Clement, the Rattlers' catcher. "Cibney Bello did a great job for us, he left one pitch over the plate and the next guy hit a home run and that was the difference in the game two pitches."

After a night of hot hitting, both teams let the pitchers carry the load on Saturday afternoon. Both starters, Bello and Jackson, kept the bats quiet much of the afternoon.

Bello started off the game by getting Emilo Bonifacio to fly out to centerfield and then allowed a base hit to Alberto Gonzalez before striking out the next four batters. Bello had a career high eight strikeouts when he fanned Brandon Simon in the top of the sixth. Jackson was equally untouchable for South Bend. The big right-hander pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just five hits while striking out nine.

"He hadn't pitched all post season and comes out and throws eight stellar innings against us," said manager Scott Steinmann. "He kept us off balance, he did a great job and you have to tip your cap to him."

But trouble came for the Rattlers in the seventh inning when the right-hander's excellent outing took a turn for the worse. Bello, who had retired the 13 previous batters, allowed a single to Carlos Gonzales to lead off the seventh inning. Then, with one man on, Cesar Nicolas sent Bello's 2-1 pitch over the head of Josh Womack for a two-run homer. The next batter, Agustin Murillo, made Bello pay again by sending his 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for another deep blast, making it a 3-0 lead for South Bend.

"(Bello) pitched a great game, you look at two pitches, two consecutive hitters that's a great game," said Steinmann. "He just left a couple of pitches out over and they're a good hitting team so they took advantage of it."

And with the way Jackson was pitching a Rattlers rally seemed impossible. The dependable Jon Lockwood came on for Bello to close out the seventh inning for Rattlers.

Jackson continued to deal in the seventh inning for South Bend, working through the heart of the Rattlers order with ease.

"He threw extremely well he had all his pitches working for strikes and he was hitting spots," said Clement. "Unfortunately we weren't able to make the adjustments we needed to put some runs on the board."

Lockwood continued to pitch strong in the eighth inning after allowing a leadoff single to Alberto Gonzalez. But he got in trouble in the top of the ninth inning when he allowed three consecutive singles, allowing another run to cross the plate, making it a 4-0 game.

In the bottom of the ninth, South Bend brought in their closer Matt Elliot, who was second in the Midwest League with 32 saves. And that was it for the Rattlers, as Elliot sat down Clement, Mike Wilson and Marshall Hubbard in order to preserve the 4-0 win and give the South Bend Silver Hawks the 2005 Midwest League Championship.

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