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Published On: June 3rd, 2016


WILLMAR, Minn. — The Stingers' offense had a tough start to the season in its first two games, but that changed in a big way on Thursday night against the Eau Claire Express at Bill Taunton Stadium. 

After scoring four runs combined in its first two games, Willmar (1-2) erupted for eight runs in the first three innings and held serve the rest of the way en route to an 8-4 victory over the Express, the first win of the Stingers season. 

Stingers starter Gage Hutchinson (Daytona State) surrendered a first-inning home run to Eau Claire's Daulton Varsho, but the responded with five innings of shutout ball after that to pick up his first victory of the year. Hutchinson allowed just four innings in his final five innings of work, striking out six total and retiring six of the final seven batters he faced. 

Following the first-inning home run, the Stingers responded in turn with some offensive fireworks for Hutchinson. Willmar put together a three-run first inning and followed that with a four-run second. 

In the first after the Express recorded the first out, Willmar strung together three straight hits with a single by Danny Pardo (Montevallo), a double by Jack Schmidt (Northern State) and a single by Greg Lambert(Southern Illinois), with Lambert's single tying the game. Ty Tice (Central Arkansas) drove in another run with an RBI groundout to give the Stingers the lead for good, and Travis Wacker (Oklahoma State) notched the first of his three hits during the night to make it 3-1. 

The second inning saw the Stingers send nine men to the plate. as Lambert, Tice and Wacker each drove in another run a piece. to extend the lead to 7-1. 

Eau Claire struck for a second run in the top of the third, but again Willmar responded with a run of its own to keep the six-run lead. 

Jake Rothwell, who is Hutchinson's teammate at Daytona State, took over for the final three innings and helped preserve the win with his first save of the year. 

Wacker led the Stingers at the plate with his 3-for-4 performance, which included a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Danny Pardo also recorded three hits and scored twice and added an RBI in the win. 

The Stingers will go for the series sweep of Eau Claire tomorrow night at the Beehive on Baseball Cap Giveaway night. The first 300 fans will get a Stingers cap courtesy Heritage Bank and Pioneer Heritage Insurarance. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Gage Hutchinson. 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

The 2016 season is presented by Marcus Construction. For more coverage of the Stingers visit the West Central Tribune online at