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Finishing touch: Saberhagen, Stingers set win record, drop Bucks 5-3

Willmar, Minn. — The bar only continues to get set higher for the Willmar Stingers. 

In their six seasons in the Northwoods League, Willmar has put more wins up each successive year, and Sunday night they put the finishing touches on the best regular season in franchise history. 

Eddie Estrada hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and Tyler Heitmann threw six innings of one-hit ball as the Stingers won their 47th game of the season with a 5-3 triumph over Waterloo. 

Willmar (47-24, 24-13 second half) fell behind the Bucks for the second straight night, but Heitmann locked it down after giving up a second inning run to help ignite the 23rd comeback win of the season. After the right-hander from Bethel allowed a double in the second that brought in the lone run against him, he finished his night by retiring the final 14 batters in a row. The only man who did reach against him came on a dropped third strike, as Heitmann fanned a personal best seven batters in his first win of the year. 

The Stingers offense then battled from behind and tied the game in the third inning with an RBI groundout from Sean Beesley to bring Dylan Alexander home. 

But the big blow for the Stingers came with a four-run sixth inning. It was Beesley who scored the go-ahead run when he came around on a fielder's choice groundout and error with Dan Motl at the plate. Then a batter later, Estrada made the Bucks pay for the error with his second home run of the year, a three-run blast to left-center that made it 5-1 Stingers. 

The bullpen would combine the rest of the way to ensure that Heitmann got the win. Jason Ortiz threw a scoreless seventh, Quinn Kelly stranded the tying run on base in the eighth, and Corey Binger tossed a scoreless ninth to get his first save of the year. 

Willmar continues its season Monday night with a first round playoff game against the Duluth Huskies at Bill Taunton Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. 

The 2015 Stingers 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 Tyler Heitmann. 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.