ST. CLOUD, MN.- The Willmar Stingers failed to open the postseason on the right foot, enduring a 4-3 loss against the St. Cloud Rox on Sunday.
Willmar scored the first run of the postseason as Drey Dirksen homered to lead off the second inning.
Later in the inning with Aidan Byrne on third base, Jake Hjelle hit a pop up to the left side of the infield which was caught but Byrne was able to score with no one covering home plate.
That shifted all the momentum to the Stingers dugout but it didn’t last long.
Anthony Mata evened the game back up in the next half inning with a homer of his own to score two.
The Stingers took the lead right back in the third as an Aidan Byrne single gave Willmar a 3-2 lead.
MinnWest Technology Campus Player of the Game Chris Rofe shined on the mound to open the postseason for the Stingers as he tossed five innings while only allowing two hits and picking up three strikeouts.
The Stingers held a 3-2 lead until the sixth inning where Mata hit his second homer of the night to bring in two more.
St. Cloud held on from there despite a strong effort on the mound from Hemponix Relief Pitcher of the Game Rylen Bayne to close things out.
Willmar now trails in the best-of-three series against the Rox to open the postseason.
The Stingers will have a chance to even things up on Monday as the series shifts back to Willmar.
For more coverage of the Stingers, visit the West Central Tribune online at www.wctrib.com.
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The Willmar Stingers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Now in its 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires, and front office staff, over 325 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.willmarstingers.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Stingers as your favorite team.