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Bucks edge Stingers in extras for series finale win

WILLMAR, Minn. — The Stingers have had a knack for exciting finishes so far this season, and Friday night was no exception. 

Willmar and the Waterloo Bucks went back and forth in the series finale and eventually went to extra innings, as the Bucks managed to top the Stingers 9-5 at Bill Taunton Stadium. 

The Stingers (11-13) fell behind in the first inning, but orchestrated a comeback in the fourth inning to take the lead.

After Waterloo (16-7) tied the game at three in the fifth, Willmar again responded to take the lead back in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

The Bucks eventually tied the game once more in the eighth inning, and a 10th inning grand slam from Adam McGinnis proved to be the difference. 

Willmar's pitching staff held the Bucks' offense at bay throughout the night, with four Stingers' pitchers combining to strand 13 players on base. Part of that effort was Willmar starter Blake Stockert's performance in the first inning, an inning that saw him strand the bases loaded with the use of three strikeouts. 

Stockert (North Dakota State) allowed just one run on four hits in four innings of work with six strikeouts, and kept the Stingers right with the Bucks through the early going.

That performance by Stockert allowed Willmar to take its first lead of the night in the fourth inning when the Stingers scored three times. Justin Toerner (Cal State Northridge) doubled home the first run of the inning to tie the game, while Brandon Perez (USC) walked to force in a run and Cole Gray (Midland) had a sac fly later in the inning. 

After a two-run fifth for the Bucks, the Stingers jumped right back out in front with a two-run inning of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Kole Cottam (Kentucky), Eddie Estrada (Minnesota) and Perez all reached to start the inning, and Tyler Smith (Pepperdine) singled to drive in Cottam and Estrada to give Willmar a 5-3 lead. 

Cottam finished the night 2-for-4 at the dish for his third multi-hit game of the season and also scored a pair of runs. 

Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Kole Cottam. 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.

Willmar now heads on the road for a three-game road trip, and will face La Crosse tomorrow night at 6:05 p.m. at Copeland Park. 

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