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NWL Baseball: Stingers fall flat against Express

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Tribune Staff Report

EAU CLAIRE — The Willmar Stingers dug themselves a major hole early against the Eau Claire Express on Friday, and a ninth-inning rally wasn’t near enough as the Express romped 16-11 at Carson Park.

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The Stingers fell to 22-18 overall and are 1.5 games behind Northwoods League North Division leader Waterloo, which lost 3-1 to Alexandria on Friday.

The Stingers and Waterloo wrap up the regular season with games today and Sunday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

However, the Stingers aren’t the Bucks’ primary threat at the moment. Mankato pulled within a half-game of the Bucks and Duluth is tied with the Stingers in third place.

The Stingers won the first half of the NWL season to secure a postseason berth beginning Monday, but home-field advantage is still at stake.

On Friday, the Stingers fell behind 6-1 after the first inning.

Starter Matt Snyder lasted just two innings, surrendering 11 earned runs on seven hits. Four walks didn’t help his cause.

Reliever Colton Boucher didn’t fare any better, taking over for Snyder in the third and allowing three of the Express’ five runs, putting Eau Claire up 11-2.

The Stingers fell behind 16-8 after eight innings but rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth before the rally stalled.

M Waletich was 3-for-5, homered and drive in four runs, and C Hughston and B Pruett both had two hits and drove in a pair of runs.

M Stubbs was 2-for-5 and S Beesley also had two hits.

The Stingers play Waterloo at 6:05 p.m. today at Taunton and the teams close the regular season on Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday, beginning at 7:05 p.m.

Fireworks follow Sunday’s game.

The best two-of-three NWL division playoffs begin Monday, with the NWL championship series opening later in the week.

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