Willmar Stingers' infielder Bell sparks Oregon State to sweep of No. 5 Arizona
Okay, so sitting outside watching a baseball game doesn't sound like an ideal situation right now. But summer is fast approaching and so, too, will we hear the crack of the bats and the smell of hot dogs during a Willmar Stingers game. And while the opener is set for June 1 at Bill Taunton Stadium, the 21 players currently signed by the Stingers are all playing college baseball.
Infielder Carter Bell, a native of British Columbia who spent part of last summer with the Stingers before missing several games after developing mononucleosis and then was chosen to play with the Canadian Junior National team, led Oregon State to a three-game series sweep over No. 5-ranked Arizona. Bell went 5-for-10 in the series and is hitting .306 this season with six doubles and 13 RBI. Oregon State is currently 24-7 and ranked No. 9 in the nation.
Bell, a junior third baseman/shortstop, was a 22nd-round draft choice of the San Francisco Giants out of Vaniery High School in British Columbia. But he spurned the Giants' offer to further his education and to play for the Beavers.
Brian Stamps, who signed with the Stingers recently, is also playing for Oregon State. The outfielder is hitting .228 with 13 RBI.
Jarid Scarafiotti, one of four recent signees of the Stingers, is also having an outstanding spring with Stephen F. Austin (23-11) in Nacogdoches. The junior catcher/first baseman is hitting .392 with two homers and 24 RBI after going 2-for-4 Friday in a 14-2 win.
"I'm seeing the ball real well," said Scarafiotti, by phone on Friday. "Our hitting coach has us working real hard in the cage and it's paying off."
Scarafiotti had just completed a game in 92-degree weather in Corpus Christie, Texas. He was surprised to learn that it was snowing in Minnesota on the same day.
"I've never been to Minnesota," he said. "Probably the closest to there is Ohio. But I'm looking forward to coming there and playing."
Jason Leblebijian, a sophomore shortstop at Bradley University, is hitting .333 with nine doubles and 12 RBI. He has also stolen 10 of 12 bases. Bradley has a 19-12 record and Leblebijian has started all 31 games. Rob Elliot, a junior third baseman for Bradley, is hitting .298 with two triple, two home runs and 16 RBI. He also has started all 31 games and also has stolen 17 of 19 bases.
Sean Dwyer, a freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University, is one of seven players who signed to play with the Stingers for a second summer. A 15th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, Dwyer turned down a good offer to play pro ball in hopes he could improve his stock playing college ball and also in the Northwoods League with the Stingers. He is off to a slow start at Florida Gulf Coast (17-16), hitting .194, but he has been hitting .300 with men in scoring position and has two triples, two homers and 19 RBI. Freshman outfielder Jake Foley is hitting .257 with 16 RBI for Florida Gulf Coast. Jacob Barnes, the Stingers' closer last season who will return this summer, is 1-2 with a 4.96 ERA and two saves in 11 appearances with Florida Gulf Coast. The hard-throwing right-hander has struck out 43 batters in 33 innings. Ricky Knapp, a freshman pitcher for Florida Gulf Coast, is 3-1 after beating Bethune-Cookman 5-2 on Tuesday.
Eduardo Gonzalez, a popular first baseman for the Stingers in their inaugural season, will also return. He is hitting .304 with 12 doubles and 20 RBI for Alcorn State (12-20).
Stingers returnee Mitch Delfino, a sophomore third baseman for the California Golden Bears (20-9), is batting .313 with eight doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI in 25 starts this spring.
Another player set to return for a second stint with the Stingers is Anthony Bemboom, a sophomore catcher for Creighton University (23-7). The Sauk Rapids native is currently hitting .261 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 20 starts behind the plate.
Michael Jahns, a right-handed pitcher for Northwestern who finished strong last summer with the Stingers, is 1-3 with a 4.62 ERA for the Wildcats. He has struck out 15 batters in 25 innings.
John Haberman, a sophomore first baseman for the University of Pacific (10-19), is hitting .298. Jordan Brown Jr., a freshman outfielder for the Kansas Jayhawks (15-17), is hitting .128. He has made 10 starts. Jake Stinnett, a freshman third baseman for Maryland (16-18), is hitting .208 with three homers and 15 RBI.
On the mound, Thomas Taylor, a sophomore for Kansas, hurled seven shutout innings on Tuesday as the Jayhawks beat Iowa 12-5. He is now 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA and 29 strikeouts with only six walks in 29 innings. Brown drove in a run in the Iowa win. Jason West, a junior closer at Stephen F. Austin, is 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 20 innings. Scott Lieser, a sophomore at St. Cloud State (20-6), is 4-0 with a 2.81 ERA. Chris Gonzales, a junior for Point Loma University (21-16), is 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA and two saves. He has struck out 30 batters in 442/3 innings pitched. Kurt Spomer, a junior at Creighton, is 2-3 with a 2.77 ERA and three saves in 16 appearances.