ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Willmar’s power returned Sunday night with four home runs, including back-to-back homers by Brennan Moore and Forrestt Allday, to fuel a 7-5 victory against the Rox at Joe Faber Field.
With the win, the Stingers moved back into first place by a half-game. Willmar now has a 13-9 record in the second half, while the Duluth Huskies are 13-10. All eight teams in the North Division are within four games with 13 remaining.
Dillon Haupt (San Diego), Mitch Rowan (San Francisco), Moore (Texas Tech) and Allday (Central Arkansas) all went deep in the contest to give the Stingers 55 home runs this year, which is five away from setting a Northwoods League record for most by a team in one season. St. Cloud hit 59 in 1997. The Stingers have hit 39 of their 55 home runs on the road this year.
Haupt began the power display with a solo homer in the first inning to left field to give the Stingers a quick 1-0 advantage. After the Rox tied the game in the bottom of the first, Rowan gave Willmar the lead for good with a two-run homer to right field to plate Moore in the third inning. The Stingers led 3-1 at that point. Haupt added a single in the fourth to finish 2-for-5.
Michael Hahn (Nebraska Kearney) earned the victory with five strong innings in his first start, surrendering only two runs on three hits. Brady Anderson (Florida Gulf Coast) notched his 13th save of the season by recording the final two outs. Kody Gorden (Nevada) pitched 1.2 innings of middle relief and allowed one run on three hits, while Andrew Pulido (San Francisco) gave up two runs in his 1.2 innings.
Phil Imholte hit a solo home run for St. Cloud in the third inning to cut the Willmar lead to one, 3-2, but the Stingers quickly responded with a two-run fourth that included an RBI single by Rowan. Rowan finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Rowan has two home runs and seven RBIs in the four games since the All-Star Break. He added his team-leading 19th stolen base later in the frame.
Leading 5-3, Moore led off the ninth with his first home run of the season to knock the St. Cloud reliever Keaton Siomkin out of the game. Facing a new pitcher, Allday worked a full count against Will Flor and then hit his second roundtripper of the year to right field to extend the Stingers margin to 7-3. Moore ended the contest a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored, and Allday is now batting .368 in July with eight of his 10 extra-base hits coming this month.
With one on and one out in a 7-4 ballgame, Anderson came in from the bullpen. After an infield single by Andy Henkemeyer, Anderson retired the next two in order on groundouts for his 13th save this year.
Willmar begins a six-game homestand Monday with a 7:05 p.m. contest against Rochester. It’s Art in the Park Night presented by Willmar Area Art Council and the West Central Tribune. The first 500 fans will receive an artist rendition poster.
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.