Stingers survive wild 9th to edge Express
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — The Willmar Stingers maintained their hold of first place in the Northwoods League’s North Division after winning their sixth straight by upending Eau Claire 5-3 Thursday at Carson Park.
David Parrett went 3-for-3 to continue his torrid start at the plate for Willmar. The catcher is hitting .615 after producing eight hits in 13 at bats since joining the club last week.
Parrett’s first hit Thursday tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth as his single knocked in Reagan Fowler. Parrett later put Willmar ahead 2-1 in the seventh after he singled leading off the frame, stole second, advance to third on Eau Claire’s attempt to throw him out at second, and came home on Max Dutto’s sacrifice fly to left field.
The game didn’t remain a 2-1 Willmar advantage very long as the Stingers plated three more runs in the ninth.
Willmar sent up eight batters to the plate and Nick Rivera and Casey Hughston opened the frame by drawing walks. Parrett followed with another single to load the bases and an Eau Claire allowed Troy Kuhn to reach first and pinch runner Hunter Webb score.
Dutto then drove in another run without getting a hit as he drew a bases-loaded walk, allowing Hughston to score. Frankie Rios followed with a sacrifice fly to center that knocked in Parrett and gave Willmar what seemed to be a comfortable 5-1 lead. Dan Motl loaded the bases again with a single, but the Express manufactured a double play to escape further harm.
Eau Claire got a double and a walk to start its half of the ninth and quickly turned that into two runs behind a single and sacrifice fly to pull within two runs. Another single put runners on second and first with two outs, but first-year Willmar manager Drew Saberhagen went to the bullpen and called in Garrett Anderson. The right-hander responded by notching a strikeout in four pitches to pick up his second save in three nights.
Willmar starter TJ Whidby scattered six hits and three strikeouts in seven innings to earn his first Northwoods win this season.
Fowler was the only other Stinger to collect a hit as the Creighton product singled in the fourth and in the sixth.
The Express outhit the Stingers 9-6, but they committed three errors, issued five walks and stranded seven baserunners.
Willmar (13-4) and Eau Claire (10-7) meet again today at 7:05 p.m. before the Stingers host the Express on Saturday and Sunday. Both weekend games start at 6:05 p.m. at Bill Taunton Stadium.