Willmar, MN — After narrowly beating the Honkers 1-0 on June 25, the Willmar Stingers proved that their first win was no fluke as they beat Rochester 5-0 to sweep the two-game series.
Willmar starting pitcher Polo Portela got the game started on a high note for the Stingers by retiring the side, but Rochester starter Ryan Dorney (Saint Martin’s) responded by doing the same thing to Willmar’s first three batters.
Each team allowed one single in the second inning, but the score remained 0-0 as the game moved on to the third.
After Portela retired the side for the second time in three innings, the Stingers’ offense finally got to Dorney. After two straight walks, both runners advanced base on a double steal. Then, Willmar second baseman Daniel Walsh got the scoring started with a two-run single.
The Honkers got a good scoring opportunity in the fourth inning when Tristan Peterson (New Mexico State) hit a single to advance Evan Berkey (Cal State-Bakersfield) to second base. However, Portela got out of the jam by getting the next two Honkers out to end the inning.
Portela bounced back in the fifth by retiring the side for the third time.
The Stingers offense gave him some more support in the bottom of the fifth when Willmar left fielder Justin King smashed a two-run home run to give the Stingers a 4-0 lead.
Following the big hit, Marc Bisogno (Fordham) relieved Dorney and got the last out of the inning.
Kyler McMahan (Oregon State) led off the sixth inning with a single, but Portela continued his dominant start by recording three straight outs.
After a scoreless bottom of the sixth, Rochester got its best scoring threat in the seventh when Zack Zalesky (Oregon State) was hit by a pitch and Logan Denholm (California-Davis) hit a single to advance Zalesky to third base. Unfortunately, the Stingers had an answer as they brought in Augie Sylk to relieve Portela and he got the last out of the inning.
Logan Nissen (Bethany Lutheran) came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh, but Willmar’s offense got to him too as they added a fifth run when designated hitter Chase Stanke hit an RBI single to score King.
Sylk stayed in to pitch the last two innings and although he gave up a walk in each inning, he didn’t allow a hit and the Stingers won 5-0.
The loss makes the Honkers’ record 16-13, 2.5 games behind first-place Willmar.
Dorney got four strikeouts and only allowed three hits, but was named the losing pitcher.
McMahan earned Profile Sanford Player of the Game for going 1-3 with a stolen base.
The Honkers continue their road trip when they play the Mankato MoonDogs in a home-and-home series. Game one is at Joe Faber Field in Mankato on Thursday, June 27. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Game two is at Mayo Field in Rochester on Friday, June 28, also at 7:05 p.m.