Mike Brownstein got the Rattlers (39-32 overall, 1-0 second half) on the board first. His two-out RBI single in the bottom of the second sent Greg Hopkins home from third for a 1-0 lead. But, that was all the Rattlers could manage against Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez.
The River Bandits starting pitcher gave up one more hit over his final 4-1/3 innings. Martinez struck out seven and left the game with a 3-1 lead.
While Martinez was shutting down the Rattlers offense, Quad Cities (40-30, 0-1) scraped together an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning against Wisconsin starting pitcher Brooks Hall. Jonathan Rodriguez singled and was balked to second, but was still there with two outs. Rodriguez took third on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on the play when Roberts threw wildly to third.
Rodriguez stepped up in the sixth inning with two runners on and two outs. He lined a 3-1 pitch from Hall to left-center for a 2-run double and the River Bandits took a 3-1 lead.
Roberts got a little redemption against Quad Cities reliever Ryan Copeland in the eighth inning with a leadoff double. He took third on a grounder and scored on a TJ Mittelstaedt single to center to cut the Quad Cities lead to 3-2.
In the ninth, The River Bandits sent closer Aidan Lucas to the mound. Lucas was 5-for-5 in save opportunities coming into Friday's game. Wisconsin marred that perfect record in textbook fashion.
Mike Walker singled with one out and was replaced by pinch runner Franklin Romero, Jr. Romero took off for second on a pitch to Chris Dennis at the plate. Romero got in safely with his eleventh stolen base of the season. Dennis promptly singled to center to send Romero home just ahead of the throw to the plate to tie the game 3-3.
Dennis, who took second on the throw home, would also take third on a wild pitch. The River Bandits elected to walk Brownstein intentionally to set up a double play possibility with Roberts coming back into the box.
Roberts would just get enough of a 2-2 pitch from Lucas to stay alive. On the next pitch he lined a pitch to right. Michael Swinson made the catch with his back to the infield. That allowed Dennis to score the winning run without a play and the Rattlers celebrated a good start to the second half.
Game two of the series is Saturday night at Time Warner Cable Field. Jimmy Nelson (2-6, 5.20) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Seth Blair (3-3, 4.96) is scheduled to start for the River Bandits. Game time is 6:35pm.
It's Meet a Storybook Princes Night on Saturday as fans will get to meet princesses from their favorite fairy tales.
Saturday is also US Cellular Night. Fans may to present their US Cellular bill or US Cellular phone at the box office to purchase a reserved bleacher seat at regular price and receive a second reserved bleacher seat for free.
After the game, FOX 11 presents a Saturday Night fireworks display.
If you can't make it out to the game, tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or timberrattlers.com starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:15pm.
WP: Brian Garman (2-2)
LP: Aidan Lucas (0-1)