WILLMAR, Minn.—Despite a three-day break due to the All-Star game, the Stingers continued their recent hot play Thursday night at Bill Taunton Stadium, upending Thunder Bay 7-2 behind seven strong innings from Stingers starter AJ Puckett.
Puckett gave up a leadoff hit in the top of the first inning to Jordan Serena, but he stranded Serena at third base when he retired the next three batters. The Stingers (37-17 overall, 15-9 second half) then scored two runs in the bottom of the same inning to stake Puckett to the early lead, and Willmar didn't look back the rest of the way. Sean Beesley led of the bottom half of the first and belted his second home run of the season, and his second in his last nine at-bats, to make it an early advantage, an advantage that held up for the final eight innings. Hutton Moyer followed Beesley by smacking a double and then came into score on Nick Rivera's sac fly to make it 2-0.
Puckett stranded two more Border Cats in the top of the second and the Stingers added one more run in the bottom of the inning. Thunder Bay got its first run of the game in the top of the third to cut the deficit to two, but Willmar had its biggest inning of the night in the bottom of the third to make it a comfortable 6-1 lead. With one out in the frame, Casey Hughston, Jack Ross and Brett Barbier all reached with Barbier driving in Hughston with a double to the alley in left. Tyler Cohen drove in the first of his two RBI with a sacrifice fly and Frankie Rios added the second of his two runs-batted-in with a single into left field.
The Border Cats got one run back in the top of the fourth against Puckett but he made sure that the big lead held up, striking out six batters in his seven innings and stranding five base runners all throughout his quality start. The win was Puckett's second of the season in what was tied for his longest outing of the season, dating back to his last start against Madison last Thursday.
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 AJ Puckett. 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.