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Bases-loaded hit in 10th lifts Brainerd past Stingers

BRAINERD -- Brainerd center fielder Vince Bruno was one of only a few players who wasn't having much luck at the plate in the Lunkers' Northwoods League game against the Willmar Stingers Tuesday.

Bruno stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning hitless in five at-bats in a game that, until that point, featured 12 runs and 24 hits. So Bruno was late to the hit parade but his first hit was also the last.

Bruno's one-out, bases-loaded single drove in Lunkers teammate Wade Wass and sent Willmar to a 7-6 loss before a crowd of 564 at Stewart C. Mills Stadium.

The loss dropped the Stingers to 9-10 in the second half of the Northwoods League season and ended Willmar's seven-game road winning streak.

The teams complete a three-game set in Brainerd at 7:05 p.m. today.

The Stingers and Lunkers spent the first seven innings trading runs. The Stingers took a 1-0 lead in the first on Jason Leblebijian's run-scoring single, and the Lunkers answered in the second on Wade Wass' RBI base hit.

In the third, Mitch Rowan walked and later scored on a passed ball for a 2-1 Stingers lead, and in the bottom of the inning, the Lunkers' Tommy Reyes doubled and scored on a ground out.

Reyes struck the biggest blow of the early going, launching a Steve Lieser pitch for a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth that gave the Lunkers a 4-2.

But the Stingers scratched together a couple of runs in the top of the fifth to tie the game again. Leblebijian reached on a fielder's choice and Eduardo Gonzalez walked ahead of Mitch Delfino's two-run single later in the inning.

And once again, the Lunkers shot ahead in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Hillsinger singled in the go-ahead run and then scored for a 6-4 lead on Kye Winter's sacrifice fly.

Delfino and Gonzalez came through again to rescue the Stingers in the seventh. Rowan walked, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out. Gonzalez singled in Rowan, and, after Sean Dwyer singled, Delfino singled in Gonzalez to make it 6-6.

Both teams suffered from shaky pitching most of the game, but relievers took command in the later innings.

The Lunkers touched Lieser and reliever Michael Shreves for 11 hits and six runs over six innings, but Stingers reliever Jack Shannon threw two hitless innings in relief. Kurt Spomer pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth but gave up a single to Wass, who advanced on a ground out and then reached third on a wild pitch. Spomer walked Reyes and Winter intentionally before surrendering Bruno's game-winning single.

Lunkers pitchers Aaron Griffin and Chase Webb gave up 10 hits and walked five over eight innings, but Tyler Sparger pitched two hitless innings in relief to earn the win.