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Stingers tip Border Cats

Willmar first baseman Nick Rivera, middle, pitcher Kurt Yinger, left, and catcher Max Ayoub converge on a foul pop up in the second inning near the Thunder Bay dugout but can’t come up with the out in a Northwoods League game against the Border Cats on Monday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

WILLMAR — An early two-run lead didn’t hold up for the Willmar Stingers Tuesday, but the visiting Thunder Bay Border Cats committed three errors, including one in the ninth that allowed Casey Hughston to score the winning run in Willmar’s 5-4 win on Baker Field at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Border Cats’ first error allowed Frankie Rios to reach base in the first and later come home on Nick Rivera’s double. Thunder Bay made another error in the second, eventually allowing Troy Kuhn to score another unearned run.

The Border Cats answered in the third after Willmar starter Kurt Yinger cruised through the first two innings. Eight batters visited the plate in the frame with Tyler Rolland providing the go-ahead hit with a two-run single.

Both teams then scored in the fifth before Hughston tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh for Willmar by scoring on Brian Pruett’s flyball to right field.

The Stingers wasted a Rios double in the eighth, but in the ninth Hughston doubled to lead off the frame and scored when Thunder Bay relief pitcher Devin McLemore fielded Alex Borglin’s bunt but his attempt to throw Borglin out at first was wide.

Rivera, Rios and leadoff Dan Motl had two hits apiece in Willmar’s 11-hit attack against four Thunder Bay pitchers.

Josh Matheson induced two flyouts and a groundout in the top half of the ninth to earn the victory. Yinger struck out six and surrendered nine hits while pitching into the fifth. Will Lydon issued four walks during 3.2 innings of action, but he kept the Border Cats hitless and more importantly scoreless to keep Willmar in the game.

The Stingers hit the road for the next four days, starting today at 6:35 p.m. with a two-game series in Waterloo, Iowa.

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