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Published On: June 14th, 2014

EAU CLAIRE, Wis.—Behind another solid outing from Austin Klein, the Willmar Stingers closed out an undefeated four-game road trip with another 5-3 win over Eau Claire Friday night at Carson Park, moving their winning streak to seven games.

Nick Rivera provided the early lead for the Stingers (14-4) on his second clout of the season, but like Thursday night, the game got a lot more interesting in the late going. Klein had been moving along rapidly over his first five innings of work, but in the sixth inning he ran into his first troublesome spot of the night. The Express’ ninth hitter Brady Burzynski led off the sixth with a sharp single to center field, only the third hit Klein had allowed to that point. Burzynski then stole second base with Mike Porcaro at the plate and moved up to third a pitch later on a passed ball. Porcaro singled to bring in the first run of the game and cut the Stingers’ lead to 3-1.

Klein came back to get the next hitter on a strike out, but three straight hits by Eau Claire brought in two more runs. The third hit was a double down the right field line by Daniel Salters to score Drew Turbin and Tyler Hermann and tie the game at three.

But the Stingers found an answer once again like they have all throughout their seven-game winning streak, responding with two runs in the next half inning to take the lead for good. Following Troy Kuhn’s groundout to start the seventh inning, Brian Pruett lined a clean single to right field to start the winning rally. Hunter Webb got beaned on the next pitch from Conner Rusch, who had started the seventh in relief of Express starter Jordan Ruckman. With Dan Motl at the plate, both Pruett and Webb moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch, but after Motl struck out, the Stingers had only one out to work with to try to score the go-ahead run. Frankie Rios came up next and although he didn’t record a hit, his bouncer to the left side of the infield was enough to drive in Pruett from third. Eau Claire’s shortstop Drew Turbin tried to backhand the ball in the hole and make the long throw to first on the grounder, but his throw sailed wide and allowed both Pruett and Webb to score to make it a 5-3 game.

Tyler Hanson had come on in relief for Klein in the sixth, worked his way out of a two-on, one-out jam and then continued strongly for his final two innings of relief. In the bottom of the seventh Hanson gave up a leadoff single, but then came back to get the next three batters in a row to end the frame without much cause for alarm. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Hanson worked a one, two, three inning to register the hold and set Garrett Anderson up for a save situation in the bottom of the ninth.

On for the save chance for his second straight night, Anderson recorded a rather quick and painless final three outs. He got Brent Gibbs on a one-pitch fly out for the first out and with seven more pitches he had ended the final rallying chance for Eau Claire (10-8). Jake Zoellner struck out swinging on three pitches and Anderson got Mike Barajas to ground out to end the game.

Hanson (1-0) earned his first win of the season in 2-2/3 innings of relief work, while Conner Rusch suffered the loss in just one inning on the mound. Nick Rivera went 2×4 at the plate with his three RBIs coming on his third inning three-run shot over the left center field wall.

The Stingers return home Saturday to take on the Express as part of the home-and-home four-game set.

The 2014 season is presented by Charter. For more coverage of the Stingers visit the West Central Tribune’s webpage at

Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Nick Rivera. 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