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Stingers overcome rain, two deficits to drop Express

Willmar, Minn. — A first half championship won't come easy, but the Stingers dug deep Saturday night at Bill Taunton Stadium and fought off two deficits to beat Eau Claire 8-6. 

In a game delayed by rain and featuring plenty of offense, Willmar outlasted the Express and extended their North Division lead to 1.5 games with just four left to play in the first half. 

The win did not come easy. Eau Claire scored first in the top of the second inning with a single run. But the Stingers answered right back with three runs in the bottom half of the same inning to take the lead back. All three runs came by way of extra base hits. There were four total hits in the inning and all were for extra bases. Troy Dixon doubled to start the inning, and Eddie Estrada replaced Dixon at second and tied the game at one when he doubled. Billy Quirke tripled after that to give the Stingers a 2-1 lead, and Dan Motl followed with another double to put Willmar up 3-1. 

The Express would strike back with three of their own in the top of the fourth to take the lead, but again the Stingers had an answer. Willmar scored three more times in the bottom of the fourth inning to take the lead back and take it for good. For yet another night, the big blow came from Brian Pruett. With the bases loaded on walks and two outs in the fourth, Pruett doubled to clear the bases and put the Stingers up 6-4. 

From there, the Stingers pitching staff by way of Garrett Anderson, made sure the Express wouldn't come back another time. Anderson came in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and just one out, but got the final two batters to keep the Stingers up two. 

Willmar tacked on a run in the bottom of the eighth and Brady Anderson made sure it held up with his sixth save in as many chances. 

The 2015 season is presented by Marcus Construction. For more coverage of the Stingers visit the West Central Tribune online at www.wctrib.com.

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Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Dan Motl. 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.