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Stingers still share top rung

Willmar Stingers starter David Carroll allowed only three hits and no runs over seven innings Monday night against the Brainerd Lunkers at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Carroll earned his fourth win. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

WILLMAR -- David Carroll and Michael Jahns combined on a three-hit shutout Monday night as the Willmar Stingers maintained a share of the Northwoods League North Division lead with a 7-0 rout of the Brainerd Lunkers at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Willmar improved to 17-11 in the second half of the division race. St. Cloud, despite getting only two hits, also improved to 17-11 after a 1-0 win over Mankato. The winner of the second half will play Rochester in the playoffs.

Eduardo Gonzalez drove in three runs for the Stingers and Jordan Smith knocked in a pair of runs.

Carroll gave up three hits over seven strong innings for improve to 4-2 and lower his ERA to 4.04. He walked none and struck out four. Jahns tossed two hitless frames and struck out two.

Willmar jumped out in front early, scoring four times in the opening inning. Carlos Leyva led off with a single and Isaac Ballou and Mitch Delfino drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Smith then rapped a two-run single and Gonzalez followed with a two-run double.

The Stingers added two more runs in the second inning as Ballou was hit by a pitch and stole second. With one out, Smith walked and Gonzalez followed with a run-scoring single.

Willmar tacked on lone runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Smith singled with one out in the seventh, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a single by Matt Serna. In the eighth, Mikey Reynolds singled and was erased on Leyva's fielder's choice. Jared Norris walked and both runners advanced on a balk. The Stingers then pulled off a double steal with Norris swiping second and Leyva coming home.

Willmar hosts Brainerd again today in the second of a three-game series. It will be Back to School Backpack Night in which the first 300 youth age 14-and-under receive a Stingers backpack. Willmar has only three home games remaining this season and only seven games remain in the regular season.