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Border Cats out-slug Stingers in series opener

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — The Stingers had three players record three-hit games and had a season-high 18 hits on Thursday night against Thunder Bay, but the Border Cats edged Willmar, 15-14, in a slug fest at Port Arthur Stadium. 

Willmar (14-17) got off to a strong start, putting up a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, the second-straight game it had scored in the first inning. Luke Becker drove in the runs with a single.

The Stingers took a 2-0 lead into the second inning, and that's when the game took a turn for the wild side. Thunder Bay took the lead when it scored eight runs in the bottom half of the second inning.

But the Stingers were far from done. Willmar got right back into the game with a five-run third inning, closing the gap to 8-7. The Stingers put three straight on base to start the inning, as Danny Pardo walked and then Greg Lambert doubled to drive him in. Danny Mayer then singed to put runners on the corners. Lambert scored a batter later on a wild pitch, and after Luke Becker flied out, four consecutive batters reached again to plate two more runs. Justin Toerner then came up with a big two-run single to make it 8-6, and Quincy McAfee had a sacrifice fly to make it 8-7. 

The two teams then continued to exchange runs the rest of the way. Following a three-run fourth by the Border Cats to make it an 11-7 game, the Stingers answered right back again with four runs in the fifth to tie the game. Toerner walked to start the inning, Pardo singled three batters later, and then Lambert doubled home both guys. Mayer walked after Lambert and Becker smacked a triple into the gap in left-center field to plate another two runs. 

The Stingers took a brief lead in the sixth at 12-11, but the Border Cats put up four in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. Willmar eventually trimmed the lead back to one with two runs in the eighth, but that was as close as it could get. 

Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Greg Lambert. 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 Stingers continue the four-game series against Thunder Bay with a 1:35 p.m. game on Friday. 

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