Stingers Score Eight in Final Two At-Bats to Beat Thunder Bay, 11-7

WILLMAR, Minn. – Willmar broke open a 3-3 tie with eight runs in the final two innings and held on to claim an 11-7 victory against the Thunder Bay Border Cats Friday night at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Pat Stover (Santa Clara) led the Stingers’ offensive outburst with a 4-for-5 performance with two runs and four RBIs, including a three-run double in the eighth to give Willmar a 9-3 lead at the time. Rob Elliott (Bradley), John Haberman (Pacific) and Mitch Rowan (Willamette) also had multi-hit games. Elliott went 2-for-4 with three runs and three stolen bases, while Haberman was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Rowan finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI double.

Thomas Taylor (Kansas) earned the victory to improve to 2-1 on the season after scattering nine hits in seven innings to allow only three runs. Taylor struck out two and did not walk a single batter. Jack Shannon pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief, striking out one.

The Stingers took the first lead of the game after Elliott led off the bottom of the first with a single. Elliott then stole second and third and eventually scored on an RBI single by Stover to give Willmar a 1-0 lead. Thunder Bay came back, though, scoring one run in the second inning and another in the third to grab a 2-1 advantage.

In the bottom of the third, Sean Dwyer (Florida Gulf Coast) tied the game with a solo home run to left field. Thunder Bay took the lead back in the fifth after Kevin Taylor led off the frame with a double and scored on an RBI groundout by Ty Wosleger. Willmar tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI double by Jake Stinnett (Marlyand) to score Stover.

The Stingers broke the game open with three runs on two hits in the seventh after Elliott walked to begin the inning and then scored on an RBI double by Leblebijian to give Willmar a lead they would not surrender. Leblebijian scored two batters later on an RBI single by Haberman, while Dwyer scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a base on balls to give the Stingers a 6-3 lead through seven innings.

Elliott led off the eighth by reaching on an error, and the Stingers loaded the bases with back-to-back walks to Leblebijian and Dwyer. Stover then stepped to the plate and cleared the bases with a double to left-center field. Stover scored on a sacrifice fly by Stinnett, which gave him his team-leading 24th RBI of the year. Rowan knocked home Rowan on an RBI double.

Willmar will play another home game Saturday night, which will feature Veterans Appreciation Night and Post-Game Fireworks presented by Uncommon USA and Central Lakes Cooperative. The game will begin at 7:05 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.

The 2011 season is presented by Charter.