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Stingers soar past Alexandria

Tribune photo by Ben Brewster Willmar Stingers right-hander Scott Lieser fanned eight Alexandria Beetles over 5.2 innings Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar in his first start since the first week of the season.

WILLMAR -- Willmar pitcher Scott Lieser started for the first time since the first week of the season and came through with a strong performance to lead the Stingers past the Alexandria Beetles 5-1 on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Stingers improved to 9-6 and are in second place in the Northwoods League North Division second half. They play 6:05 p.m. today at Thunder Bay.

Lieser, a junior out of St. Cloud State, was a starter for the Stingers last season but had been pitching out of the bullpen for the past month. He moved back to the rotation after the Stingers lost Anthony Consiglio, who had been on an innings limit.

He didn't show any signs of rust, holding the Beetles to five hits, all singles, and one run through 5-2/3 innings while striking out eight.

"For some reason they were swinging at that high fastball at their eyes," Lieser said. "I just kept throwing it there and I think I got four or five strikeouts just on that."

He surrendered a run in the first inning but shut down the Beetles the rest of the way before being replaced by Josh Biggs and Brady Anderson, who combined for 3-1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Lieser said it feels good to get a chance to start again but that he doesn't care which he role he fills.

"(As a starter) you try to pace yourself a little bit more," he said. "Try to get more groundballs instead of striking out a guy in a key situation."

Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said he likes Lieser in the bullpen because he's tough on right-handed batters, but that he will make at least one more start against Duluth on Thursday.

"It gives me options with (Andre) Wheeler, who's very good on left-handed hitters," Hollod said. "I like to have one guy who's good on left and one who's good on right before I get to (closer Brady Anderson)."

Michael Suchy continued to swing a hot bat, providing all the offense the Stingers would need.

Suchy was 3-for-3 and either scored or drove in all five Willmar runs, including a two-out, two-run double in the third inning.

He scored on Max Kuhn's sacrifice fly in the second, Kenny Roberts' single in the third and Corben Green's single in the seventh.

Hollod said Suchy has been huge for the team this season.

"He's been coming through all year with two-out RBI-base hits," Hollod said. "You want to be that guy. Those guys who perform in those situations are the ones that move on to the next level."

Suchy bumped his batting average up to .354 and leads the Northwoods League with 51 RBIs, while cracking the top 10 in on-base percentage (.450) and slugging percentage (.526).

Roberts had two hits and Green, Kuhn and Phil Pupillo each added one. Forrestt Allday drew his 58th walk of the season and is approaching the all-time Northwoods League record of 60.

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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