Northwoods League: Green powers Stingers past Rox
WILLMAR -- Corben Green spent this spring with Louisiana-Monroe trying to return to form after a knee injury that ended his 2011 season.
He looked like he might be there after a 2-for-4 night with a grand slam in the Willmar Stingers' 6-5 win over St. Cloud on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Green tore his ACL running to first base in the 14th game of the Warhawks' 2011 season and took a medical redshirt. He was batting .491 at the time of the injury, with eight doubles and one home run.
"It's been a long process, but I feel OK now," Green said. "It was tough mentally and physically. I had to play through a lot of pain, but I did OK."
He hit .261 in an everyday role for the Warhawks in 2012, though he showed little power with a .363 slugging percentage.
But the power was there on Thursday, as Green crushed a 1-2 breaking ball from St. Cloud starter Zach Hirsch for a line-drive grand slam that rightfielder Boo Vazquez hardly turned to look at.
"I got behind and in the count and was trying to see some pitches up," Green said. "I was sitting on off-speed and he hung a curveball."
Mitch Rowan started the first-inning rally with an infield chopper to second base that he beat out for a single. Hunter Dozier followed with a walk and Michael Suchy singled to center to load the bases and set the table for Green.
Green joined the Stingers last week, and so far is batting .316 with two doubles and one home run.
He said he can feel his swing coming back and that his knee feels much better.
"The only time it hurts is when it rains because I've got screws and stuff in there," he said. "I had a lot of at bats at school this year. Here I'm just trying to work towards next year."
Willmar padded its lead with RBI-singles from Dozier in the fifth inning and Suchy in the seventh.
The Stingers' pitching staff made it interesting in the ninth inning when Andre Wheeler came in to protect a 6-3 lead and allowed a single and three walks to make the score 6-4. Brady Anderson replaced him and got Ty Jackson to ground out, though St. Cloud scored its fifth run on the play.
After a hit batter, Anderson struck out Nick Tanielu and got Chris Paul to pop out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Stingers' starter Kyle Fischer also struggled with his control, as he plunked five batters and threw two wild pitches in 3-2/3 innings. He gave up one run in the third before giving way to Kody Gorden who allowed two of Fischer's inherited runners to score to make the score 4-3.
Mark Lukowski earned the win with 1-2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
The Stingers improved to 14-9 and are in the third place in the Northwoods League North Division. They play Rochester at 7:05 p.m. today in Willmar.
Notes: Ex-Stinger Mitch Delfino (2011) has signed with the San Francisco Giants; the Giants drafted him in the 20th round of the 2012 MLB draft ... Two other 2011 Stingers, Pat Stover and Jason Leblebijian, have started their professional careers with the Ogden Raptors and Bluefield Blue Jays, respectively