WILLMAR, Minn.—The wind was strong for the second straight night at Bill Taunton Stadium, but in another slugfest Sunday against Rochester, this time the Stingers fell short in a 11-8 loss to split the two-game series.
All signs pointed to a Stingers victory out of the gate with eight runs in the first three innings, the offense doing the job without needing many hits, as has been the case multiple times this season.
Hutton Moyer led off the bottom of the first inning for Willmar (21-8) and reached on a bloop single back up the middle. Moyer moved to second on a stolen base with Jack Ross at the plate and went to third on the same play off an overthrow by Rochester catcher Jack Goihl. With one out in the inning Casey Hughston hit a sacrifice fly to drive Moyer in from third, giving the Stingers the early advantage.
Rochester came back to tie the score at one in the top of the third inning, but the Stingers answered right back and opened up the game with seven runs in the bottom of the same inning. Rochester starter Seth Holbert struggled with his control in the third, which led to a majority of Willmar's runs. After Troy Kuhn led off with a single, Hunter Webb walked and Hutton Moyer got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Two straight singles by Jack Ross and Casey Hughston brought three runs to the plate to give the Stingers a 4-1 lead over the Honkers (19-13). Holbert issued two more walks to walk in a run, and then got relieved by Brandon Stennis who walked in another run. Kuhn followed that with his second hit of the inning to drive in two more and make it an 8-1 lead.
But for the second straight night, Rochester stuck around after falling behind early and scored runs in each of the next three innings to take the lead, 9-8. The Honkers tacked on two more against Brantley Claunch in the eight inning to open up a three-run cushion, enough to keep the Stingers at bay in the final two innings, holding up for an 11-8 final.
The Stingers and Honkers have played evenly in each of their first three series this season with three wins apiece out of six games. Casey Hughston led the Stingers attack at the plate with two of Willmar's seven hits, tallying three RBI as well. TJ Whidby received a no-decision in his fourth start of the year for the Stingers and struck out two batters in his 4-2/3 innings of work.
The 2014 Stingers season is presented by Charter. For more coverage of the Stingers visit the West Central Tribune's website at www.wctrib.com.
Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Casey Hughston. 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.