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Stingers end season's first half with loss

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ALEXANDRIA -- Willmar scored six runs in the first two innings, but only plated one more run the rest of the way and the Alexandria Beetles came from behind to defeat the Stingers, 8-7, at Knute Nelson Memorial Park Wednesday.

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The Stingers ended the first half of the season with a 20-15 record to finish in second place in the Northwoods League North Division. The 20-15 mark represents the best record by the Stingers in the first half of a season in franchise history.

The Stingers open the second half of the season at Waterloo today at 6:35 p.m. It will be the fourth game of the team's nine-game road trip.

The Stingers' offense looked strong early, picking up two-out RBIs from Michael Suchy and Corben Green in the first inning to take the initial lead. Suchy ripped a 385-foot double to left-center field to score Forrestt Allday and scored one batter later on a base hit to right field by Green.

The Beetles (13-22) responded, however, with three runs on six hits in their first trip to the plate, including a two-run homer by Ben Moore. After six-straight hits by the Beetles with one out, Alexandria had a 3-2 lead and the bases loaded, but an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play prevented further damage and kept the Stingers within one.

It didn't take long for Willmar to regain the lead. Following a leadoff single by Kenny Roberts, Max Kuhn hit a two-run homer to center field to put the Stingers back in front, 4-3. Kuhn now has four RBIs in his last two games.

Still in the second inning, Matt Jackson reached on a base hit, and two batters later, Mitch Rowan walked to put two on with two out for Suchy. The league leader in RBIs came through again with a two-run single to give the Stingers a 6-3 lead. Suchy finished the game 2-for-4 with four RBIs to give him 36 for the season.

The Stingers did not score again until the eighth. A three-run homer by Ryan Padilla tied the game with two outs in the fifth, 6-6. In the sixth, Alexandria took the lead for good with a line-drive two-run homer to right-center field by Ben Moore after Matt Lowenstein began the inning with a double. Moore went 2-for-4 in the contest with two home runs and four RBIs to increase his team-leading total to 30.

Willmar threatened in the eighth after Zach Benson doubled with one out and scored on an error. The Stingers had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second base while trailing 8-7, but the next two batters were retired and Willmar went down in order in the ninth.

Brian Kaye suffered the loss in his debut with the Stingers after surrendering two runs on three hits in one inning of relief. Jacob Cage lasted two innings in his first start with the team, allowing three runs on eight hits.

Stingers use long ball to squash Beetles

ALEXANDRIA -- Three different Stingers hit solo home runs, including back-to-back homers by Dillon Haupt and Kenny Roberts, to highlight a 12-6 victory over the Beetles at Knute Nelson Memorial Park Tuesday.

The contest began as a back-and-forth contest with five different lead changes, but the Stingers finished with seven unanswered runs to pull away for the victory and move into sole possession of second place in the Northwoods League North Division.

Trailing 4-2 in the fourth inning, Dillon Haupt hit a solo home run to center field to lead off the frame, and Kenny Roberts followed with a deep fly ball to nearly an identical spot to tie the game, 4-4. The Stingers went ahead in the fifth with on an RBI groundout by Haupt to score Andre Wheeler.

Haupt finished the game 4-for-6 with three RBIs. He is now 8-for-15 with six RBIs since joining the Stingers with a home run in each of his three starts with the team. Roberts reached base five of six times with a 3-for-3 day at the plate, a walk and a hit by pitch. Roberts' six home runs are the third most in the Northwoods League.

Alexandria came back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead, 6-5, but Willmar broke the game open in the seventh with four runs. Hunter Dozier began the inning with a single and scored two batters later on an RBI single by Haupt. Later in the inning, Max Kuhn walked with the bases loaded, and JD Dorgan bounced into a fielder's choice to earn his sixth RBI. Forrestt Allday capped off the frame with an RBI single to score Brady Anderson and give the Stingers a decisive 9-6 advantage.

The Stingers added a run in the eighth on Michael Suchy's fifth home run for his league-leading 32nd RBI of the year.

Mark Lukowski earned his first victory of the season with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to lower his ERA to 2.61. As a unit, the Willmar bullpen pitched four innings of shutout ball, allowing only three baserunners while striking out three.

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