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Willmar Stingers second baseman Frankie Rios holds the tag but can’t get an out call as St. Cloud’s Chris Paul steals second in the third inning of a Northwoods League game on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

Rox score 6 late runs to shock Stingers

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WILLMAR — Things were looking good late for the Willmar Stingers to stretch their winning streak to four games Thursday. But the visiting St. Cloud Rox stunned the first-half champions by slugging a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth and scoring three more times in the 10th to collect an 8-5 win at Bill Taunton Stadium.

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The Rox had a 2-0 lead quickly disappear after Brett Barbier led off the bottom half of the fifth with a solo home run, Dan Motl scored on an infield error and Nick Rivera launched a home run — his sixth of the season — leading off the sixth, leading to a 3-2 lead for Willmar.

The slim cushion stood up for a while before Willmar upped its lead in the eighth when Troy Kuhn belted a two-run homer to cap a 3-for-3 performance that raised his batting average 28 points.

But the Rox loaded the bases in the ninth after Willmar second baseman Frankie Rios made his third error of the game. Reliever Brady Anderson then induced a groundout, but Clay Ardeeser followed with a three-run homer to tie the game at 5-5.

With the momentum shifting the visitor’s way, Willmar failed to get a walk-off win as St. Cloud turned an inning-ending double play to send the game into extra innings. The Rox proceeded to load the bases again on another Willmar error and a passed ball allowed Harrison Wenson to score the go-ahead run. A walk followed to load the bases once more and Kade Scivicque made Willmar pay for its mistakes by hitting a two-run single.

The Stingers then went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.

Barbier finished with two hits as only two Stingers collected more than one hit on the night.

The teams battle again at Bill Taunton Stadium today before Willmar heads south for the weekend to play a pair of games in Waterloo, Iowa.

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