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Stingers sink Lunkers in 9th

BRAINERD -- The Willmar Stingers erased a two-run, ninth-inning deficit on Blake Shepherd's two-run home run and defeated the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers 6-5 thanks to Eduardo Gonzalez's run-scoring sacrifice before a crowd of 439 at Stewart C. Mills Stadium.

Trailing 5-3 and down to its last at-bats, the Stingers' Jake Stinnett drew a walk and Shepherd worked a full count after being in a two-strike hole and then ripped a Ray Black fastball over the left-field fence to tie the game.

After the Stingers' Mitch Rowan coaxed a one-out walk, he stole second and then took third on a wild pitch, Gonzalez lifted a fly ball to left to bring in Rowan with the winning run.

Stinger reliever Ricky Knapp worked a stressful ninth but got Wade Wass to line out to shortstop with Lunkers on second and third to improve his record to 5-1.

The Stingers improved to 10-10 in the second half of the Northwoods League season. The Stingers begin a two-game homestand against Rochester at 7:05 p.m. today at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Lunkers appeared poised to take their second straight from the Stingers when Tommy Reyes lined a two-run homer to left off Knapp in the eighth to break a 3-3 tie.

As they did in Tuesday's extra-inning Lunkers victory, the teams traded runs early. Willmar's Mitch Delfino singled in two runs in the fourth for a 2-0 lead, but Rochester's Paul Taboni answered with his own two-run single in the fifth.

Rowan's two-out, run-scoring single in the seventh put Willmar ahead 3-2, but Taboni responded with a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the inning to tie the game.

Gonzalez had three hits in three trips and Jarid Scarafiotti was 2-for-3. Starter Kody Gorden worked five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Reliever Chris Gonzales allowed an earned run in two innings of work.