Bee Hive Buzzes for Walk-off Win
June 5th, WILLMAR, MN – Two consecutive nights, two one-run wins, completely different games. This time Willmar (5-3) overcame an early 3-0 deficit to topple the Thunder Bay Border Cats on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Steven Brault that scored Max Dutto (Cal-Berkely) and sent Bill Taunton Stadium into a frenzy. The 1,085 fans on hand erupted as the throw from right field sailed high and wide, completing the improbable comeback.
Early in the game, Chris Kubitz (St. Cloud) and Thunder Bay pitcher Caleb Smith traded scoreless innings as each team struggled to find offense. However, a suspect call at third base keyed a three run inning for the visitors after a brief protest from manager Matt Hollod. The Stingers then cut into the Border Cats’ lead in the fourth when Max Kuhn (Kentucky) ripped a single to left that scored Michael Suchy (Florida Gulf Coast) from second base.
Then, Willmar pitching steadied the ship as Thunder Bay went hitless over the final six innings. Kubitz did not factor into the decision, but ended the game with a respectable line of six innings pitched and three earned runs on three hits.
However, it was Zack Tillery (Florida Gulf Coast) who ignited the players and fans alike. Tillery bounced back from a forgettable outing this past weekend to exact some revenge on Thunder Bay. The right-hander dazzled with five strikeouts over three innings to earn the victory. Tillery struck out the side in the eighth and struck out two in the ninth, leaving the infield to bask in the thunderous applause that rained down at the Bee Hive.
In the seventh inning, a change at pitcher by Thunder Bay gave the Stingers an opening. Southpaw Kyle Cornett came on to face fellow lefties Danny Brennan (St. Louis) and Brault, but after a fielder’s choice followed by a wild pitch that scored Dutto the matchup tilted in favor of the Stingers. Brault turned on a 2-0 pitch that for a double to right that scored Brennan and tied the game 3-3.
The win places Willmar in sole possession of second place, trailing the Duluth Huskies.