Timber Rattlers defend Brewers' turf
Kjeldgaard's homer propels Wisconsin to Border Battle win
When Cody Adams took the mound in the sixth inning, he needed a minute to catch his breath. His Wisconsin Timber Rattlers teammates had just staked him a one-run lead, but he couldn't help but take a look around Miller Park before gathering himself.
Adams admitted he didn't truly settle down until Peoria's Michael Brenly grounded out to shortstop. But once he shook off the nerves, he threw three scoreless innings Friday to help the Rattlers defend the Milwaukee Brewers' home field with a 5-3 victory over the Chiefs in the third installment of the Border Battle.
"It was unbelievable," said Adams, a 2008 second-round Draft pick. "It's what everybody dreams for and hopes to do on a regular basis one day. I just did my best and tried to soak it in without the butterflies getting to me."
Before the game, Rattlers players toured the stadium and took batting practice in the park they one day hope to call their home field. Brett Lawrie, one of the Brewers' top prospects, said he was quickly able to get over the nerves of playing in front of a crowd of 17,880.
"Obviously, the thought goes through your mind, but you're obviously playing the game at the same time, so you want to keep the focus," said Lawrie, the 16th overall selection in last year's Draft. "It's the same game, just baseball, and we went out there and battled and finally came away with the win."
The Border Battle was first held in 2003, when the Beloit Snappers, then the Brewers' Class A affiliate, played the Timber Rattlers. That first game featured future big leaguers like Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. The teams played again the following season before taking a break that lasted until Friday.
The Rattlers struck first when former Pioneer League All-Star Brock Kjeldgaard hit into a double play in the first inning that scored 2008 second-round pick Cutter Dykstra.
Peoria -- the Midwest League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs -- plated a pair of runs in the third and another in the fourth to take the lead and set the stage for one of the bigger moments of Kjeldgaard's career.
After Dysktra cut the Rattlers' deficit to one with an RBI double, Kjeldgaard stepped into the box with two outs. He slugged a two-run homer to right field and put Wisconsin ahead for good.
"With the amount of fans and the excitement that was here, everything surrounding the game, it was a pretty big thrill for me," said Kjeldgaard, who felt like he was missing pitches early in the game. "I was just looking for a pitch to hit."
"We needed it," added Lawrie, who contributed three hits. "He came through. I couldn't get it done that at-bat before, so it was good to have him behind me. He got a pitch he could handle and he punished it."
Adams, Lawrie and Kjeldgaard all admitted the game was a highlight of their brief careers, a snapshot of what they hope is their future, a chance to join the likes of Fielder and Weeks. Until then, however, they'll continue to enjoy these moments.
"It's unbelievable," Adams said. "It takes your breath away."
Mason Kelley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.