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Smith’s Bomb Not Enough, Stingers Lose 3-2

WILLMAR–Just like they did in the first two games of the series, the Stingers surrendered an early lead to Thunder Bay on Sunday at Bill Taunton Stadium and were never able to recover, dropping the series finale 3-2.  Jeff Barto surrendered three first inning runs in his third start of the season, but settled down after that, putting up zeroes in each of the next five innings before leaving the game after the sixth on the hook for the loss.
 
The Stingers offense was largely dormant for the majority of Sunday’s tilt, but came to life in the bottom of the sixth when Jordan Smith creamed a Michael Woytek offering way out of the park to right for a two run shot, his second of the season, and the only scoring mustered by the Stingers all night. Smith went two for four all-told, and with his homer, has now knocked in eight runs in his last three games.  Right after the blast, Sean Dwyer nearly made it back-to-back jacks for the Stingers, but his fly to deep right-center glanced off the wall for a triple.
 
The big story on the mound for Willmar wasn’t Barto’s start, but rather Jacob Barnes’ finish.  The Florida Gulf Coast sophomore looked superhuman on the mound, striking out six Border Cats in three shutout innings, giving the Stingers a chance to win.  But Thunder Bay found a way to make their first inning effort stand up, as Drew Erwin tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his sixth save of 2010 for the Border Cats.
 
Next up for Willmar, the St. Cloud River Bats roll into town Monday night with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm at the Bee Hive.  You won’t want to miss it either, because it’s Minnesota Twins Night on Monday presented by R & J Tours.  Get to the ballpark early and meet Twins legend Tony Oliva! Tony-O will be available for autographs and photos before the game and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  For tickets, call the Stingers ticket office at 320-222-2010, or visit willmarstingers.com for more information. As always, we remind you to log on to wctrib.com for all your Stigners coverage.  The 2010 season is presented by Charter.