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Willmar claims first, longest losing streak ends

A Stinger victory paired with a Rox defeat boosted Willmar into the drivers seat of the North Divison, a game up on St. Cloud. The Stingers also hold the best record in the Northwoods League with a 12-4 mark, half a game better than South Division leader Lakeshore. Wisconsin Rapids finally picked up a win as well, ending a 11-game losing streak. Many teams rallied but not many succeeded on an exciting Wednesday night of Northwoods League baseball.

Eau Claire 2, Duluth 1

The Eau Claire Bears and the Duluth Dukes battled on throwback night and Eau Claire fought off a late Duluth comeback to win, 2-1. The Dukes (Huskies) couldn't figure out Bears (Express) starter Andy Davis (St. Scholastica) who picked up the win. Davis went seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits while striking out six. A RBI single and a sacrifice fly was enough offense for the Bears as closer Austin Stroschein worked out of a ninth inning jam to pick up his third save on the season. The win was Eau Claire's second straight as they moved four games over .500.

Thunder Bay 9, Alexandria 7

The Border Cats pulled away with a three-run eighth and fought off a ninth inning Alexandria rally to win their second straight. Neither teams starting pitchers made it past the third inning but Thunder Bay had a solution with a stellar long relief performance by Michael Daley (Kean). Daley went five shutout innings to pick up the win for the Border Cats, striking out four. Robb Paller (Columbia) went 2-4 with a RBI, three runs and a stolen base to boost the Thunder Bay offense. Player of the Night Kris Goodman (Iowa) hit the ball well for Alexandria, going 3-5 with a home run and a double. 

Willmar 7, Waterloo 2

The Stingers picked up their fifth win and, paired with a Rox loss, took over first place in the North Division. Willmar erupted for four runs in the top of the ninth to easily dispatch the Bucks, 7-2. Andrew Towns (Walters St) was strong again after throwing a complete-game shutout in his previous start as he picked up the win. Towns went six innings and struck out six while giving up just two runs on five hits. Ben Gullo went three shutout innings in relief to pick up the save. The Stingers offense was boosted by Reagan Fowler (Creighton) who went 3-5 with a run, a RBI and a double.

Wisconsin Rapids 14, Kalamazoo 4

The Rafters ended a Northwoods League-high 11 game losing streak with a convincing ten-run rout of the Growlers, 14-4. Wisconsin Rapids racked up 18 hits, four coming during a seven-run sixth inning. Seven different Rafters hitters picked up two hits or more while three had multi-RBI days. The offense was led by Clark Egan (Arkansas) who went 3-4 with two RBIs and Erik Payne (Virginia Tech) who went 2-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Middle reliever Isaac Behme (Webster) picked up the win with three innings of one-run ball, striking out two and giving up just four hits. An interesting stats is that these two teams have combined for a 2-18 record over their last ten games and sit 5.5 (Kalamazoo) and 8.5 (Wisconsin Rapids) games back from first in the South.

Mankato 4, St. Cloud 1

The MoonDogs picked up a series sweep of the Rox with a 4-1 win to knock St. Cloud out of first place in the North. The Rox were passed by rivals Willmar, who've rattled off five straight wins. Mankato scored all four of their runs in the first inning and didn't look back- they let in one run in the fifth but the MoonDogs pitching was excellent. Ethan Greene picked up his first win of the season as he went six innings and allowed the lone run- unearned- while striking out three to drop his season ERA to 2.07.Two relievers combined to shut down St. Cloud before closer Jacob Westerhouse picked up his second save of the season. Mankato's Shane O'Neill continued his torrid start to the season as he went 1-4 with a three-RBI double and is now hitting .344 on the season.

La Crosse 8, Green Bay 6

The Loggers won their 8th of their last ten with a 8-6 win over Green Bay to move just 1.5 games back of first place Lakeshore. La Crosse scored three times in the fourth to go up 6-2 and fought off a late Bullfrog rally to pick up the win. Nash Knight (Dallas Baptist) slugged a two-run home run for the Loggers as a part of a 2-4 night while teammate Aaron Knapp (California) drew three walks and scored twice. Adam Cline (Columbia) picked up the win, his second, after six innings of three-run ball with eight strikeouts. Breckin Williams (Missouri) came on with one out in the eighth and shut down Green Bay to pick up his fourth save. 

Thursday's Games (All at 7:05 unless otherwise noted)

Willmar @ Eau Claire (6:35)

Alexandria @ Duluth (6:35)

Kenosha @ Lakeshore (6:35)

Green Bay @ Wisconsin

Madison @ Wisconsin Rapids

St. Cloud @ Thunder Bay

Waterloo @ Mankato

Rochester @ Kalamazoo

Battle Creek @ La Crosse