The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers combined another scoreless performance from starting pitcher Brandon Knarr with a big offensive day for a 9-2 win over the South Bend Cubs on Saturday at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Wisconsin (24-14) used three two-out, RBI hits in the bottom of the first to take an early 3-0 lead. Tyler Black, who singled to start the inning, was on second base with two outs. Tristan Peters dropped a bloop single into right top score Black with the first run. A wild pitch moved Peters into scoring position. Then, Wes Clarke lined a single past the shortstop to score Peters. A walk to Darrien Miller extended the inning and that allowed Carlos Rodríguez to double down the line and third to score Clarke for a 3-0 lead.
The Timber Rattlers kept the pressure on with three more runs in the second inning. Black started the rally when he singled, stole second, and stole third with one out. Zavier Warren walked and that brought Joe Gray Jr to the plate with runners at the corners. Gray singled to left to score Black. Warren would score when there was a wild throw to second on a force play on Gray after a grounder off the bat of Peters. Clarke capped the scoring in the frame with a single to score Gray for a six-run cushion.
Ashton McGee made it 7-0 in favor of the home team with a single to left to score Rodríguez from second in the fifth inning.
That was plenty of support for Knarr. The left-hander pitched six scoreless innings as he scattered five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Knarr lowered his ERA for the season to 1.17, moved his season strikeout total to 55, and extended his current scoreless innings streak to 13-1/3 innings. In his last five starts, Knarr has allowed two runs on over 30 innings. Four of those starts have been scoreless outings for Knarr.
Warren hit a solo home run and Rodríguez added an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth for a 9-0 lead.
South Bend (23-15) got on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth inning on a two-run double by Fabian Pertuz. Zach Mort, who entered in relief of Knarr to start the seventh inning, got the final two outs of the game and picked up his first professional save with his three innings out of the bullpen.
Saturday’s win gives Wisconsin a chance at a series split with a win Sunday afternoon in the series finale.
Antoine Kelly (1-0, 2.14) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Kohl Franklin (0-3, 8.44) was moved from his Saturday start to be South Bend’s starting pitcher on Sunday. Game time is 1:10pm.