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Comeback kids: Stingers overcome 5-run deficit, best Huskies

DULUTH, Minn. — The Stingers’ biggest offensive inning of the summer came at a very opportune time on Monday afternoon against the Duluth Huskies at Wade Stadium.

Trailing 9-4 heading to the top of the seventh, Willmar (18-19) scored a season-high nine runs to overcome its largest deficit of the year and beat Duluth (18-17) 16-12 in the series opener.

Two of the Stingers biggest offensive showings have come over the course of the last five days, and they scored 14 or more runs for the second consecutive series opener.

Duluth scored eight of its first nine runs over the first three innings, but a solid relief outing from Kiko Garcia kept the Stingers right in the game as the seventh started.

By the time the seventh inning ended, the Stingers had sent 15 batters to the plate and totaled seven hits, taking advantage of three errors in the inning to score the nine runs.

Eight of the nine players in the order scored at least one run in the inning, and Greg Lambert, Kole Cottam, Justin Toerner, Cole Gray and Dylan Woods all drove in runs in the inning. Toerner had a pair of singles, while Gray had a single and a walk to drive in three runs in the inning.

The nine runs was enough to give the Stingers the eventual winning run, but they added more offense in the eighth for good measure. With two outs in the inning, Lambert got hit by a pitch and Danny Mayer singled to put two on board for Kole Cottam. Cottam promptly uncleared the bases with his first home run of the year, a three-run shot down the left-field line.

The Huskies struck early in the game, tallying five runs in the first to take the lead back from the Stingers at 5-3. Duluth added two in the second and one in the third, but Garcia had one of his best outings of the year in relief of starter Brad Schaenzer.

Garcia went 4 2/3 innings and didn’t allow an earned run, yielding just four hits and walking just one to pick up his second win of the summer.

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.

The Stingers finish a six-game road trip with the series finale against the Huskies at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday. Willmar returns home on Wednesday for Bill Taunton Bobblehead night.

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