Stingers knocked off by Rox in extras
St. Cloud, MN—The Stingers and Rox switched stadiums Friday night, but the outcome was the same as it was on Thursday night as they fell 5-4 in 12 innings to St. Cloud at Joe Faber Field.
Although the Stingers (2-2) came up short in extra innings, the game started strongly for the visitors with two runs in the top of the first inning. After leadoff man Dan Motl started the game off by striking out, three straight Willmar players reached, started by Sean Beesley who recorded his first hit in a black and gold uniform. Following Beesley’s single, Nick Rivera got on by way of a free pass, and then designated hitter Sam Hall chased Beesley home with an RBI double. Max Ayoub completed the scoring in the inning with a single that drove in Rivera.
Taking to the mound in the bottom of the first was Andrew Towns in his pitching debut with the Stingers. Synced in from the start, Towns threw 6-2/3 innings, the longest any Stinger starter has gone so far on the young season. Unfortunately, one of the few mistakes he made on the mound during his almost seven innings of work was a big one, as Rox left fielder Garrett McMullen clobbered a pitch left up in the zone out of the park in the fourth inning. The home run came with two Rox players already on base to give them the 3-2 lead.
But like Thursday night, the Stingers came right back to tie the game in the next half inning. This time Motl reached first base on an error to start the inning, and he eventually came around to score with the help of some Stinger small ball. The next batter Beesley laid down a bunt that moved Motl up 90 feet to second base. With Rivera at the plate, Motl stole third and scored when the right-handed Rivera struck for a single.
After the Stingers tied the game, Towns continued to mix speeds effectively and retired Rox hitters until he finally got replaced by Tyler Hanson with two outs in the seventh inning. Hanson retired the only batter he faced in the seventh and only allowed one hit in his 1-1/3 innings of work, his first pitching opportunity of the season.
With strong pitching to keep the game tied, the Stingers’ offense struck in the top of the eighth to give them the lead back. This time it was Alex Borglin who worked his magic and found his way around the bases without even needing a hit. Getting on base by way of a walk, Borglin stole second with Scotty Smith at the plate. The throw to second sailed high into center field allowing Borglin to move up to third, and when the throw to third from center fielder Danny Baer got away from third baseman Will Craig, Borglin raced home to give the Stingers the lead.
But the Rox (4-0) would not be denied a win in their home opener, as Garrett McMullen opened the bottom of the ninth with a double. McMullen then got bunted over to third base and with one out the Rox had a great chance to tie the game. The Rox Mitchell Kranson did exactly that with a sacrifice fly.
Stingers’ closer Garrett Anderson shut the Rox down the rest of the way in the ninth to bring the game to extra innings, pitching strongly in the 10th and 11th innings. But after the Stingers squandered a second and third chance in the top of the 12th, the Rox came back in the bottom half to score the game-winning run. Harrison Wenson led off by getting hit by a pitch, stole second and moved up to third on a sacrifice bunt. That left him 90 feet with only one out and Kyle Thornell capitalized with a single through the infield to plate Wenson and end the game.
Kevin Burgee earned the win in relief while Garrett Anderson suffered his first loss of the year. The Stingers return to St. Cloud tomorrow for the second game of the three game set.
The 2014 season is sponsored by Charter. For more coverage of the Stingers visit wctrib.com.
Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Andrew Towns. CDI is your local medical imaging provider. It’s your choice where you go for medical imaging, for MRI, CT, mammograms and pain injections, choose CDI. Visit online at myCDI.com/CentralMN.