MANKATO -- Kenny Roberts' two-run homer in the ninth inning could not spark a rally for the Willmar Stingers, as they fell to the Mankato MoonDogs, 10-5, Wednesday night at Franklin Rogers Ballpark.
Roberts' league-leading 16th home run moves him into fourth place in Northwoods League history for most in a single season. He now has 51 RBIs on the season.
In the team's final road game of the regular season, Willmar took the early lead by scoring a run in the first inning without a base hit. Forrestt Allday led off with his Northwoods League-record 73rd walk, stole second base for his 20th steal of the year and advanced twice on two different wild pitches to give the Stingers a 1-0 advantage.
Mankato quickly responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning after beginning the frame with three consecutive singles. Trailing 2-1, Willmar tied the game its next time to the plate when Zach Benson hit a one-out single and scored one batter later on a J.D. Dorgan single and an error in left field.
Mankato came back again, though, with three runs on four hits to take a 5-2 lead at the end of the second inning. Jonathon Flinn took the loss after allowing the five runs on seven hits in two innings. Kody Gorden had a strong outing in long relief to keep the game close by going 4.2 innings, allowing only two unearned runs while striking out four. Mark Lukowski pitched the last 1.1 innings and surrendered three runs on two hits with two strikeouts.
Willmar scored its third run in the fourth inning when Benson led off with a single, stole second base and scored three batters later on an RBI groundout by Brennan Moore for Moore's third RBI in the past two games. Benson finished the game 2-for-5 with two runs scored. The Stingers trailed by two,
5-3, at the end of the fourth.
Mankato extended its margin in the seventh inning with three unearned runs to take an 8-3 lead and added to it with a two-run homer by Chase Simpson in the eighth.
With the loss, Willmar (19-12) holds a half-game lead over the St. Cloud Rox (19-13) with four games remaining, while Alexandria (18-13) only trails by one game in the North Division second-half standings.
The Stingers will play their final four games of the regular season at Bill Taunton Stadium, beginning with contest 7:05 p.m. tonight against Mankato.