Twice as nice: Stingers beat Blue Anchors, win second straight first half crown
Willmar, Minn. — The Stingers saved their best for the hometown crowd.
After a loss earlier Monday in the first game of a doubleheader with Alexandria, Willmar returned to Bill Taunton Stadium for the night cap and promptly disposed of the Blue Anchors to secure their second straight North Division first half championship.
For yet another night at home it didn't come easily, but the Stingers (22-11) battled through a slow start and came up big in the late going to beat Alexandria 5-3. It was a pitcher's duel throughout the first half of the game, and the Stingers pitching staff stranded runners in scoring position in three key situations to keep the score deadlocked at zero.
The biggest of those moments was in the fourth inning when Willmar starter Jonathan Lycan allowed a single and a walk followed by a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with just one out. At that point, Garrett Anderson came on in relief and slammed the door shut for the second time in three days. He issued a walk to the first batter he faced, but then escaped the bases loaded jam by getting a pop out and a fly out.
Following five and a half innings of scoreless baseball, the Stingers offense jumped on their opportunity in the sixth inning after chasing starter Zach Muckenhirn. Paul Funk reached to start the inning after getting hit by a pitch, and Dan Motl walked after that to put two on board. With two outs in the frame, Storm Wilson cranked a three-run home run down the right field line to put the Stingers up 3-0.
Alexandria came back for three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game, but yet again the Stingers had an answer. In his first game back as a Stinger, Reagan Fowler doubled down the left field line to begin the bottom of the inning and came around to score to put the Stingers up for good.
Willmar scored one more time in the seventh to go up 5-3, and that was more than enough as Brady Anderson took over for his brother and locked down his seventh save of the season to give the Stingers the win and their second straight first half championship.
Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Storm Wilson. 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.
The Willmar Stingers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.willmarstingers.com.