WILLMAR, Minn. — The Stingers started one of their toughest stretches of the schedule in big fashion on Tuesday, topping first half North Division champion Eau Claire 8-2 at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Willmar (29-24, 11-6 second half) got a lead-off home run from Dylan Woods in the bottom of the first, and Corey Binger allowed just one earned run in 6 2/3 to give the Stingers their third-straight victory.
Including the series opener against Eau Claire (34-19, 9-8), the Stingers play eight of their next 10 games against a first-half champion or current first place team.
Willmar put the game away early, scoring five times in the second inning to increase the lead to 6-0 after two. Errors played a big part in the inning, as three of the Stingers run were unearned in the frame. The first five batters in the second all reached, as Eddie Estrada (Minnesota) singled, Luke Becker (Kentucky) walked and Kole Cottam (Kentucky) singled to load the bags. Brandon Perez (USC) then reached on an error to plate the first run of the inning, and Cole Gray (Midland) reached on a throwing error a batter later to plate the second run.
With the second inning prolonged due to the two errors, Greg Lambert (Southern Illinois) made the Express pay with a two run single to increase the Stingers edge to 6-0.
Binger (Nebraska Omaha) put it on cruise control from there, and faced the minimum in four of his six full innings. The right-hander struck out four and scattered six hits to pick up his second win of the year.
Eau Claire put two on the board in the sixth, but that was all the highest-scoring offense in the Northwoods League could muster against three different Stingers pitchers.
The Stingers added single runs in the fifth and the eighth. Willmar was led at the plate by Danny Pardo (Montevallo) who went 2-for-4 with a double and a run to improve his average to .363, the third highest average in the NWL. His two hits also improved his hitting streak to 16 games.
Tonight’s Center for Diagnostic Imaging player of the game was Corey Binger. 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 the homestand tomorrow night with Team Poster Night presented by Marthaler Chevrolet. The first 500 fans through the gates will receive the 2016 edition of the team poster.
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.