The Stingers needed a strong performance from their starting pitcher and Chris Kubitz delivered. The lefty from St. Cloud State pitched 5.2 innings and dug deep on more than one occasion to stymie the visitors from Mankato in a 3-1 win for Willmar (9-5).
Kubitz worked out of several jams to pick up his second win of the season and distanced the Stingers from the MoonDogs in the Northwoods League North Division. Mankato (8-7) was consistently denied, even when there were scoring chances.
Timothy Arakawa doubled to lead off the game and reached third base with only one out. However, Kubitz struck out batters for the final two outs of the inning and stranded the go-ahead run 90 feet from home. A similar scenario unfolded in the second and third innings, too.
Kubitz’ resolve shined brightly amidst the plentiful opportunities for the MoonDogs who were arrested time and time again. In all, despite just having five hits, Mankato stranded seven base runners and was twice gunned down on the base paths.
Marc Flores, whose average dropped from .313 to .256 over the last week, snapped a hitless streak dating back to June 7th with a towering home run in the fourth inning. The bomb gave the Stingers a 3-1 lead and could have been his second of the game given that his fly out to left in the first took Arakawa to the warning track.
The 1,100-plus in attendance at Bill Taunton Stadium were treated to good pitching performances from both teams on “Dueling Duos Night” presented by Miller Lite and the Green Mill. No one for Willmar had more than one hit on the night, but the hits that were recorded were timely.
Danny Brennan’s RBI double began the scoring in the second inning. Following a Tyler Leffler (Bradley) walk, Brennan (St. Louis) lifted a fly ball to the gap in left center that stayed out of the range of a diving MoonDog. Max Kuhn lined an RBI single to right field with two on and two out in the third that ultimately gave Willmar the edge.
Throw in Flores’ (Hawaii) solo jack and every one of the Stingers’ three runs were scored with two outs.
Equally clutch was the Stingers’ bullpen. Josh Matheson (MSU-Mankato) came on to pitch 2.1 solid innings of late relief, allowing just two hits and keeping his perfect ERA intact. But it was Bret Dahlson (Loyola Marymount) who came in for the ninth inning and slammed the door on Mankato, recording two strikeouts including a called stike three to end the ball game.
The 2013 season is presented by Charter. For more on your Willmar Stingers, please visit www.wctrib.com