WILLMAR, Minn. – Steven Brault took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Alexandria and tied a franchise record with 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings to lead the Willmar Stingers to a 6-2 victory over the Beetles Saturday night at Bill Taunton Stadium.
The Stingers’ offense was equally as exciting as Brault (Regis) Saturday night with home runs by Dillon Haupt (San Diego) and Michael Suchy (Florida Gulf Coast) as well as six stolen bases, including Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) stealing home in the seventh inning.
Willmar improved to 18-13 in Brault’s first start of the season. The lefty fired 123 pitches and did not surrender a hit until Dylan Raper’s RBI single with two outs in the seventh. Brault also tied Scott Lieser (St. Cloud State) for the most strikeouts by a Stinger in a single game with 10. Brault had five different innings where he struck out two batters each. Brault only allowed the one run and kept his season ERA at 1.23.
The game remained scoreless until the fourth when Haupt hit an opposite-field home run to lead off the inning in his first start with the team. In the fifth, Rowan began the frame with a walk and scored two batter later when Suchy hit his fourth home run of the season over the left-field fence to give the Stingers a 3-0 lead.
The Stingers saw their lead cut to two in the top of the seventh, but responded immediately with two runs on two hits in their half of the inning. Rowan again reached base to start things off, this time after being hit by a pitch. Dozier doubled down the left-field line to move Rowan to third, and Suchy singled to right to score Rowan. Suchy finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs to increase his Northwoods League-leading total to 29, while Dozier went 2-for-4 as well.
With one out in the seventh inning and a 1-2 count to Kenny Roberts (Alabama), Andrew Busby began his windup to deliver the pitch for the Beetles. Dozier broke toward home plate from third and slid in head-first to beat the tag by Jerad Musgrove, becoming the third Stinger in team history to score on a straight steal of home. It marked Dozier’s fourth steal of the season.
Rowan stole his team-leading ninth base of the season, while Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas) stole his eighth base of the year. Roberts, Steve Talbott (Purdue) and Zach Benson (Stephen F. Austin) each stole bases as well in the contest. Talbott and Benson each went 2-for-4 in the game with Talbott scoring once and Benson adding an RBI.
Brault improved to 1-0 this year. Andre Wheeler struck out one in 1.1 inning, and Lieser struck out the side in the ninth.
Willmar will conclude its two-game homestand against Alexandria Sunday with Veterans Appreciation Night presented by Central Lakes Cooperative & Uncommon USA. There will be a special pre-game ceremony honoring local veterans and all fans will have the opportunity to stick around for a post-game fireworks extravaganza. First pitch is scheduled for at 7:05 p.m.
The 2012 season is presented by Charter. For more information on your Willmar Stingers be sure to visit the West Central Tribune at www.wctrib.com.