Stingers overcome largest deficit, sweep doubleheader with Express
WILLMAR, Minn.—After falling behind in the largest hole this season after two innings in the second game of the doubleheader with Eau Claire, Willmar slowly climbed back and scored seven runs over the final two frames to defeat the Express 9-6 and sweep the first of two doubleheaders.
The Stingers (35-16 overall, 13-8 second half) coasted to a 13-5 win in the matinee and first game of the doubleheader behind three home runs, one each from Hutton Moyer, Jack Ross and Nick Rivera, and a strong performance by Garrett Anderson on the mound in his second start. However, the Express (27-23, 11-7) came back hungry in the second game and it looked like they might run away with the game following four runs in the first two innings.
Stingers' starter Ben Gullo struggled with his control over the first two innings on the mound and walked four batters, three of whom scored to give Eau Claire a 4-0 lead after two. But Gullo limited the damage in the third and got help from his center fielder Sean Beesley who threw out Lane Milligan trying to advance from first to third on a two RBI single from Daniel Salters.
Following that turn of momentum the Stingers came back for two runs in the bottom of the second to cut into the deficit. Nick Rivera led off with the only hit of the inning, a double to the alley in left. Rivera came into score on a dropped third strike with Brett Barbier at the plate, and Barbier scored in the same fashion when Sean Beesley reached on a dropped third strike with the bases loaded.
Eau Claire added a run in the top of the third to increase its lead to three, but neither team would score for two more innings, that is until the Stingers mounted their rally in the fifth. Willmar had only one hit against Eau Claire starter Nick Davito until the fifth but started the inning with three straight hits against him with Nick Rivera singling in a run. Following the third hit, Davito got replaced but the rally continued against Taylor Duree out of the bullpen. Hughston drove in another run with a double, Brett Barbier had a sacrifice fly and Hughston eventually score on a passed ball to give the Stingers their first lead.
When Eau Claire tied the game at sixth in the top of the sixth, again the Stingers offense struck for more to take the lead for good in the next half inning. Sean Beesley began the rally with a solid single to right field, and Dan Motl moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Reagan Fowler singled and Rivera got hit by a pitch to load the bases for Hughston, who came up in the clutch. Hughston doubled for the second straight inning to make it a 8-6 lead, and a lead for good.
Brantley Claunch finished off his stellar outing in relief of Gullo and picked up his fourth win of the year with four strong innings, where he gave up just one run.
The 2014 season is presented by Charter. For more coverage of the Stingers visit 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.