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Willmar Ties Northwoods League Record in 9-3 Victory

WILLMAR, Minn. – Home runs by Kenny Roberts and Zach Benson gave Willmar 59 for the season, tying the Northwoods League record for most roundtrippers in a single season by a team set in 1997 by St. Cloud.

Roberts’ grand slam in the first inning marked the first of the two home runs, and it also gave the Stingers a lead they would never relinquish for the remainder of the game.

Duluth struck first with two runs on one hit in their first time to the plate to take a 2-0 lead, but Willmar bounced back when Brennan Moore (Texas Tech) singled with one out and Mitch Rowan (San Francisco) and Corben Green (Louisiana Monroe) each walked to load the bases with two outs for Roberts. Roberts (Alabama) turned on a 3-2 pitch, driving the ball over the left-field fence for his league-leading 15th home run of the year and his second grand slam of the season. As a team, the Stingers now have four grand slams in 2012.

With a 4-2 lead after the first inning, the Stingers continued to pour it on with a run in the second and four in the third to take a commanding 9-2 lead through three innings. Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas) scored for the 60th time of the season on a throwing error after he reached initially on a two-out bunt single in the second inning.

Michael Hahn (Nebraska Kearney) received his second victory of the season after pitching three innings of scoreless relief when Kody Gorden (Nevada) had to leave after the first inning of his first start of the year because he exceeded the league limit for pitches in one inning with 37. Hahn struck out two, while Andre Wheeler struck out five in the next two innings. Wheeler also shut out the Huskies offense in his outing. Mark Lukowski (Creighton) and Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) each tossed an inning of scoreless baseball on the mound, while Josh Biggs (Evansville) allowed one unearned run in the eighth.

Leading 5-2, the third inning began with back-to-back singles by Rowan and Michael Suchy (Florida Gulf Coast). Rowan scored on a wild pitch, and Roberts drove home Suchy on a single for his fifth RBI of the game and his 49th of the year. Two batters later, Benson (Stephen F. Austin) hit his third home run of the season to score Roberts and tie the Stingers for the league record. Willmar held a 9-2 lead at that point and coasted to its sixth victory in the past seven games.

The Stingers now have a 2.5 game lead in the Northwoods League second-half standings over Alexandria and St. Cloud with one week remaining in the regular season.

The Stingers will enjoy an off day Sunday followed by a road game at Alexandria Monday night at 7:05 p.m.

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.