ST. CLOUD, Minn. — One of the best pitching staffs in the Northwoods League was no match for the best offense in the league on Monday afternoon at Joe Faber Field.
Greg Lambert (Southern Illinois) clubbed a second-inning grand slam and the Stingers scored four more times in the fourth inning en route to a 14-2 victory over the St. Cloud Rox in the first game of the doubleheader.
Both sides went scoreless in the first inning, as Willmar starter Corey Binger induced the first of three double plays in the game for the Stingers (33-27, 15-9 second half) to set the stage for the fireworks in the second inning.
Willmar took advantage of walks in the second inning, and Lambert eventually made the Rox (40-18, 16-7) pay with his big fly. With the bases loaded, Quincy McAfee (Pepperdine) walked to force home a run to give the Stingers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Two batters later, Danny Pardo (Montevallo) drew another bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. Next up was Lambert, who hammered a pitch over the left-field wall to balloon the lead to 6-0.
Willmar kept the pedal to the medal and tacked on four more runs in the fourth inning. This time Danny Mayer had the big blow in the frame, as he mashed a double down the left field line with the bases loaded, clearing the bags to make it 10-0. Two batters prior, Lambert recorded his fifth RBI of the day with a run-scoring single.
The Stingers didn’t stop there, adding two more runs in the fifth and one apiece in the seventh and eighth innings.
But the success in the first game wasn’t just limited to the offense. Corey Binger (Nebraska Omaha) turned in one of his best starts of the year, tossing an individual season-high eight innings and allowing just three hits. Binger struck out five in his second-consecutive victory.
Lambert led the offense with his 2-for-4, five-RBI game. The Stingers also got big contributions from Pardo, who went 3-for-4 with three runs, and McAfee, who had two RBIs and scored three times. Brandon Perez (USC) added a three hits and scored twice.
In the night cap of the twin bill, the Stingers received yet another quality start from Ty Tice, but the offense managed just one run in a 2-1 loss to St. Cloud.
Tice went seven solid innings and scattered six hits, yielding just two runs. Both runs that Tice surrendered came in the first three innings, and he shut down a potent Rox offense over his final four frames. Tice allowed just two hits after the third inning.
Down by two in the seventh, the Stingers mounted a comeback. Mayer led the seventh off with the second of his three hits during the game. He moved to second when Eddie Estrada grounded into a fielder’s choice that saw both runners advance safely. Rox starter Robbie Palkert recorded the next two outs, but Travis Wacker then came up with a clutch single back up the middle to score Mayer and trim the deficit to one.
That was as close as the Stingers could get the rest of the way, as the first-place Rox salvaged the split. Willmar put the tying run on in the ninth when Mayer singled to lead off the frame, but pinch runner Dylan Woods (Nova Southeastern) was left stranded at first.
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.
Willmar continues its road trip with a two-game set in Eau Claire that starts on Tuesday night.
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.