Stingers win, but so do Huskies, giving Duluth last playoff spot
WATERLOO, Iowa - The Willmar Stingers thought they had another shot to return to the Northwoods League playoffs, but the Duluth Huskies stunned the Rochester Honkers 8-7 Saturday to secure the last spot in the North Division championship.
The Stingers also won Saturday, their fourth straight victory, by edging the Waterloo Bucks 4-3, but with just one game left Willmar trails Duluth by two games. The Stingers (40-29) had the tiebreaker over Duluth (42-27) if both teams finished with the same overall record by winning the season series 5-3. Duluth, current owners of a six-game winning streak, is 10 games over .500 during the season's second half while Willmar is 17-17.
After falling behind 2-0 early to the regular-season champion Bucks Saturday, the Stingers pulled ahead in the fourth by producing three runs, highlighted by back-to-back RBI doubles from Colton Bottomley and Nick Halamandaris. Willmar stayed in front for the entire game after that and saw that Duluth was losing to Rochester. But the Huskies used a five-run eighth inning to surge ahead and eliminate the Stingers from the postseason race.
Zack Tillery drove in the other two runs for Willmar with groundouts in the fourth and eighth. Stingers starter Andrew Woeck worked into the sixth to collect the win, while Bret Dahlson picked up the save by striking out two and giving up just one hit in 1.2 innings of work.
The Stingers conclude their 2013 season tonight by hosting the Bucks at 7:05 p.m. at Bill Taunton Stadium.