NWL Baseball: Stingers clinch playoff spot
THUNDER BAY, Ontario - Go crazy, Willmar.
For the fourth consecutive season, the Willmar Stingers are playoff bound.
The Stingers buried Thunder Bay 15-3 north of the border on Friday night and, minutes later, La Crosse erased a three-run deficit to defeat Waterloo and clinch a postseason berth for Willmar.
The location of Willmar's first playoff game on Monday is yet to be determined, although it is almost certainly going to be a road game against St. Cloud or Mankato.
While the result in La Crosse came down to the wire in a 5-4 Loggers win, the Stingers took no time in putting the Border Cats away. After scoring a pair of first inning runs, Luke Becker launched a two-run homer in the second as part of a three-hit performance.
Thunder Bay plated two runs in the fourth inning against right-hander Anthony Garza, who earned the win in his first start with the Stingers, but Willmar's offense would put the game away against the Border Cats bullpen.
Every Stingers batter notched at least one hit, with seven players recording multi-hit games.
The Nos. 6-9 hitters in the Willmar lineup entered the day with a combined three hits with the team but recorded eight on Friday. Cody Ulfers reached base four times and scored three runs, while Justus Nelson went 2-for-5 with a walk, three RBIs and a run scored.
Garza went eight inning, allowing five hits and three runs while walking just one and striking out five.
Nolan Bumstead was named the league's player of the night after going 3-for-5 with a double and three runs driven in.
This season marks the fifth postseason appearance for the Stingers in eight seasons since joining the Northwoods League. Monday's game will be a single-elimination quarterfinal game as eight of the 20 teams in the league reach the playoffs.
Willmar 15, Thunder Bay 3
Stingers 220 200 414-15 19 0
Border Cats 000 200 100-3 6 1
Hitting - Willmar: Luke Becker 3-7 hr rbi-3 r-2, Josh Bissonette 3-6 rbi r-2, Nolan Bumstead 3-5 2b rbi-3 r, Caled Ledbetter 1-6 3b rbi r, Tyler Reichenborn 1-4 3b rbi r-2, Mitchell Heid 2-5 r, Cody Ulfers 2-3 2b rbi r-3, Justus nelson 2-5 rbi-3 r-2, Matt Klosterman 2-4 r rbi ... Thunder Bay: Dayne Sommer 2-4 2b 3b r, Noah Strohl 1-4 rbi, Jean-Francois Garon 1-4 2b rbi
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Anthony Garza (W) 8-5-3-3-1-5, Cameron Churchill 1-1-0-0-0-1 ... Thunder Bay: Tyler Moskalyk (L) 5-11-6-6-1-2, Kyle Gamez 1-2-4-4-3-0, Austin Hurd 2-3-1-1-1-1, Strohl 1-3-4-4-3-2