ST. CLOUD -- The Willmar Stingers are making almost every effort to keep themselves in the Northwoods League's second half race but it appears Alexandria won't be letting any opponent cut into its lead.
The Stingers had big innings in the fifth and eighth to defeat the St. Cloud River Bats 8-3 Monday night before 1,648 at Dick Putz Field.
But Alexandria maintained its 4-1/2-game lead on the Stingers with a 9-5 win over Mankato, which dropped the MoonDogs out of a second-place tie with Willmar in the Northwoods League's North Division.
The Stingers complete a home-and-home series with the River Bats at 7:05 p.m. today at Bill Taunton Stadium.
Willmar's Eduardo Gonzalez's two-run double in the fifth inning proved to be the winning runs. Gonzalez, one of the Northwoods League's top hitters all summer, was 2-for-5 and also scored twice. Pat Stover had three hits and drove in a run, and Jason Leblebijian had two hits and also drove in a run and scored.
Stingers starter Ben Burns worked seven innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits to improve to 2-1. Reliever Michael Shreves allowed a hit and struck two in his two innings of work.