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Steady Eddie: Estrada’s big game leads Stingers past Border Cats

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — The Willmar Stingers' offense has had some of its best games over the course of the last week, and it added to that list on Friday afternoon in an 11-4 win over Thunder Bay at Port Arthur Stadium. 

Eddie Estrada (Minnesota) went 4-for-5 and tied a Stingers single-game high for 2016 with five RBIs, and Blake Stockert (North Dakota State) won his third game with six sharp innings of five-hit ball to even the four-game series with the Border Cats at a win apiece. 

The recent uptick of the Stingers' offense has also been mirrored by strong starts, and that was the case in game two against the Border Cats (5-26).

After a two-run first in the sereis opener, Willmar (15-17) scored four times in the first inning on Friday and never looked back the rest of the way. Danny Pardo (Montevallo) and Greg Lambert (Southern Illinois) each singled with one out in the first, and Danny Mayer (Pacific) doubled both home. Following a walk to Luke Becker, Estrada mashed a double to the gap in right-center field to plate Mayer and Becker and make it a quick 4-0 edge. 

Pitching with the early lead, Stockert had little issue against the Border Cats. Stockert faced the minimum in three of his six innings, striking out six. 

By the time Stockert allowed his only run in the fourth inning, the Stingers had already built a 6-0 lead. Tyler Smith (Pepperdine) doubled and scored in the second, and Estrada doubled and scored in the fourth. 

Estrada's hot day at the dish continued with a opposite field, two-run homer in the fifth inning to make it 8-1. Estrada finished with nine total bases and just a triple shy of the cycle, the former tying a single-game high for the Stingers this summer. 

Willmar added two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth, scoring in six of the nine innings to top Thunder Bay. 

Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Eddie Estrada. 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 set with the Border Cats on Saturday with a 5:05 p.m. CT first pitch in Thunder Bay. 

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