The Bismarck Larks evened up the series against the Willmar Stingers tonight to get back into first place in the Great Plains West division in a back-and-forth game that ended with a 5-3 Bismarck victory. Hunter Kloke was phenomenal out of the bullpen as he picked up his first victory of the season.

What’s Next:  The Bismarck Larks take on the Willmar Stingers for the third game of the series June 5 @ 7:05 pm. If you missed the Larks win tonight have no fear, tickets are still available for tomorrow night’s matchup. To claim a seat to watch your first place Bismarck Larks visit:

How it Happened: The Stingers got on the board first in the 3rd inning when Daniel Walsh ripped a triple into right field for the first hit of the ballgame to lead things off before Brandon Bohning grounded out to short driving in Walsh. Willmar scored again in the top of the 6th when Sam Baier walked and advanced on a wild pitch before Chase Stanke’s single drove him in to increase the Willmar lead to 2-0.

The Larks responded to take their first lead of the series in the bottom half of the inning. The rally started with back-to-back-to-back singles from the top of the order; Zack Gregory, Wyatt Ulrich and Brian Leonhardt. Leonhardt’s single drove in Zach Gregory for the first run of the game for the Larks which was his 10th RBI in just 15 at-bats this season. Ulrich then scored his league leading 16th run of the season on Clay Woeste’s RBI ground ball to third base where Woeste reached first on a throwing error. With one out and runners at first and second, AJ DiFillipo singled through the left side which scored Brian Leonhardt from second to take the lead 3-2.

The Stingers answered back in the top of the 7th inning when Eric Hildebrand allowed a hit with one out and then balked the runner into scoring position to end his outing. Hildebrand was impressive to say the least as he went 6.2 innings with three earned runs and six strikeouts. Hildebrand attacked the strike zone all night long, throwing 83 pitches, 57 of them were strikes (69%). Hunter Kloke then came in and struck out the first batter he saw before giving up his only hit on the night, a two-out double that tied the game at 3.

The Larks were not to be denied in this game however, they retook the lead after the seventh inning stretch when Patrick Arndt came up with a huge two-strike hit to right field to lead off the inning before moving up to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Zack Gregory came up with the clutch RBI broken-bat single to right centerfield to break the tie as pinch runner Alex Peterson scored from second to make it 4-3. Gregory moved up to second on the throw to the plate on his single before Wyatt Ulrich reached first on an infield single to make it first and third with one out. Gregory then scored on a wild pitch to tie Ulrich atop the Northwoods League in runs scored this season with 16 to add an insurance run to increase the lead by two.

Hunter Kloke struck out his second Stinger of the game to lead things off in the top of the 8th before allowing one Stinger on base with a hit-by-pitch. The Larks then had their biggest defensive play of the night turning an impressive 4-6-3 double play to cap off the 8th. Then Kloke shut the door in the 9th, ensuring his first victory of the season while doubling his strikeout total in the process to ensure the 5-3 victory for the Larks. The third and biggest game of the series will start at 7:05 on Wednesday night.

Inside the Boxscore: The Larks had another double digit strikeout night with six from Eric Hildebrand and four from Kloke. The Larks had 10 hits in the game compared to just six for the Stingers. The Larks picked up just their second clean defensive game of the year as they didn’t record an error on defense in the game for the second time this season.

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