Stingers Win Thriller Over Mankato

(Willmar, M.N.)- After a complete performance Wednesday night to topple Mankato, the Stingers replicated their succes Thursday in a win over Mankato.

Early runs and great bullpen pitching motored the Stingers to a 5-4 win over the MoonDogs to pick up a sweep and their 16th win of the season.

For the second straight night, Willmar scored a pair of runs in the first inning. Brennan McKenzie shot an RBI single up the middle to drive in the first run of the game. he was quickly followed by Cesar Lopez who crushed a double to left field to give the Stingers the early advantage.

Mankato got a run back in the second inning, but Willmar added a run of their own in the bottom half on a Kyle Manzardo sac fly. The Stingers would add another run in the fourth on another sac fly, this time off the bat of Tyler Wilber.

Stinger pitching did a good job of limiting Mankato opportunities. Jack Zigan, the Willmar starter, allowed 12 baserunners, but only gave up three runs in his start. Jayson Newman, Gavin Gorrell, and Landon Green in relief only gave up one run the rest of the way.

With a tie ballgame headed into the bottom of the half, Stingers’ field manager Al Leyva put on a tour de force of baseball strategy. After Pigford reached on a base hit to lead off the inning, Leyva sent Johnson up, rather than Chase Stanke, for a pinch hit appearance to lay down a bunt to move Pigford to second. After that, Brooks Lee stepped in for a pinch hit and he did exactly what was asked of him. Lee knocked an RBI single to left field to score Pigford and give Willmar a 5-4 lead heading to the ninth.

In the ninth, the Stingers called upon Jonathan Brand, the Stinger reliever with the most wins of the season, for his first save opportunity of the season. He did not disappoint, as he retired all three batters, including a strikeout to end the game. Brand picked up his first save of the season while, Landon Green grabbed the win out of the bullpen.

The Stingers now move into a tie for first place in the Minnesota/Iowa Pod with the Waterloo Bucks. Mankato falls to Willmar for the fourth time this season.

Stingers hit the road tomorrow to start a two game set at St. Cloud.