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Prep baseball: Willmar prevails over NLS in wind and heat

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar second baseman Tim Rogers appears to be tipping his hat to the crowd after making a fine play in the seventh inning to take a hit away from Ryan Vraa, but he was just maintaining possession in the 25 mph southwest wind blowing across Baker Field. Jackson Olson is the Cardinals' right fielder in background.

WILLMAR -- In Texas-like conditions, the Willmar Cardinals topped the New London-Spicer Wildcats 5-3 lasting Friday afternoon in non-conference baseball.

The digital readout showed 96 degrees in the fourth inning. The wind blew hard out of the southwest making every fly ball and adventure.

Batted balls took off like missiles orbiting toward the outfield fence. There were several outstanding catches by both teams.

Mitch Ejnik's double in the first gave NLS a 1-0 lead. Willmar's center fielder was set up for the catch when a gust of wind snapped the ball out of reach.

Willmar's top hitter, Dean Stier, likely got a push on triple in the first inning and a double in the third.

Tim Rogers hit a shot to the left-field wall for a double and Tony McCleary also doubled. Rogers, the second baseman, also made two fine plays in the field.

Damon Ruter went the first five for Willmar. He gave up only three hits but walked five and two wild pitches led directly to Wildcat runs.

Patrick Courtney pitched two scoreless innings for the save.

New London-Spicer threw Nick Bergeson, who gave up 7 hits, 5 runs (3 earned) but didn't walk a batter. Jordan Payne followed with two scoreless innings.

The first-pitch at 3:45 p.m. to accommodate the NLS choir concert at 7 p.m. proved fortunate as dark clouds and thunder moved in at 6:30 and a brief downpour at 6:45 p.m. The game was well over by then.

Willmar 5, NL-Spicer 3

New London-Spicer. 200 010 0 -- 3 3 3

Willmar 202 010 x -- 5 8 1

HITTING - NLS: Ryan Vraa 1-for-3, Steven Ammermann 0-for-3, SF rbi; Mitch Ejnik 1-for-3, 2b, SF, 2 rbi; Tanner Tobkin 1-for-3 ... Willmar: Tim Rogers 1-for-3, 2b, Tyler Stegeman 1-for-4, rbi; Patrick Courtney 1-for-3,. 2b, 2 rbi; Michael Fuchs 1-for-1, Dean Stier 2-for-3, 2b, 3b, 2 runs; Tony McCleary 1-for-3, 2b; Jason Gunvalson 1-for-2, rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- NLS: Nick Bergeson (L) 4-7-5-3-0-0, Jordan Payne 2-1-0-0-0-0 ... Willmar: Damon Ruter (W) 5-3-3-3-5-4, Patrick Courtney (S) 2-0-0-0-1-1