Stingers Clinch First Playoff Appearance with 9-2 Victory
WILLMAR, Minn. – Max Kuhn’s three-run homer highlighted a five-run seventh inning where the Stingers pulled away for a 9-2 victory against Thunder Bay to secure their first trip to the playoffs in franchise history Saturday night at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Willmar’s (21-13) victory coupled with St. Cloud (20-15) losing to the Rochester Honkers Saturday night allowed the Stingers to clinch the second-half title in the North Division.
The Stingers will host Mankato Monday night, Aug. 13, in the first round of the playoffs at Bill Taunton Stadium. The first game of the best-of-three series will begin at 7:05 p.m. Tickets go on sale Sunday at noon. They can be purchased either online at www.willmarstingers.com, by phone at 320-222-2010, or in person at the Stingers ticket office. Games 2 and 3 of the first round will be held in Mankato.
Leading 4-2, Willmar broke the game open in the seventh when the first five batters reached base as part of a five-run, four-run frame. Brennan Moore (Texas Tech) started the rally by being hit by a pitch, and Michael Suchy (Florida Gulf Coast) walked. Kenny Roberts (Alabama) doubled down the third-base line to drive home Moore for his second RBI of the game and his 53rd of the season, putting two runners in scoring position for Kuhn (Kentucky).
On a 1-1 pitch, Kuhn crushed a ball deep over the left-field fence for his fifth homer of the year and his third in his past eight games. Kuhn has nine RBIs during that same stretch and 30 for the season. Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) followed with a single. Three batters later, JD Dorgan’s (St. Thomas) RBI single capped off the rally. Dozier finished the game 2-for-5 with a double.
Scott Lieser (St. Cloud State) earned his fifth victory over his last five appearances, the best such streak in the Northwoods League this year, while improving to 8-1 for the season. Lieser allowed only two runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings. He struck out seven while not walking anybody. Andre Wheeler (Texas Tech) and Jonathon Flinn (Hawaii) combined for two strikeouts over the final 2.1 innings to secure the victory.
Willmar initially trailed 1-0 after a solo homer by Philip Lyons in the second inning, but the Stingers responded with two runs in each of the third and fourth innings to take a 4-1 lead. Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas) tied the game, 1-1, when he scored from first base on a double by Moore after reaching on a one-out walk in the third. Roberts hit a sacrifice fly later in the frame to give the Stingers the lead, 2-1.
Karl Sorensen (St. Cloud State) hit a one-out double in the fourth and scored two batters later on an RBI double by Allday. Allday scored the next batter when Moore singled to give Willmar a 4-1 lead. Moore went 3-for-4 in the contest with two runs scored and two RBIs. Moore has notched nine RBIs in his past seven games. Allday’s two runs scored in the game extended his Northwoods League-record to 68 runs scored this season
The Stingers will conclude the regular season with its second game against Thunder Bay as part of Fan Appreciation Weekend presented by Marcus Construction Sunday at 6:05 p.m. A special pre-game fan fest begins at 4 p.m. at Bill Taunton Stadium.
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.