Lackney, Stinger dingers lead to sweep of Bucks
WILLMAR - The ball was jumping off the bat at Bill Taunton Stadium on Friday night, and the Willmar Stingers took full advantage of the rare occassion.
Nolan Bumstead and Josh Bissonette both hit home runs and the rest of the Stingers offense followed suit in an 11-4 win to sweep the series against the Waterloo Bucks.
Nick Lackney built off of his success in his previous start, a 7-2/3 inning scoreless affair on July 11, and struck out five over five two-run innings to earn the win. Lackney posted a 6.83 ERA over his first seven appearances this season, but has now given up just two runs over 12.2 innings his last two outings.
The Stingers gained sole possession of second place in the North division in the second half with the win, one game back of Mankato at the top. For the season, Willmar is 27-23 and trails Waterloo by just one game for the top Wild Card spot.
A breeze rushed out toward left field on the warm night, playing to the hitters' advantage at an otherwise pitcher-friendly park. According to Tribune research, Taunton Stadium had a park factor of 87.3 through 27 games this season, meaning that it aided pitchers in run prevention by nearly 13 percent compared to league average.
Whatever the case was, Willmar came out swinging.
Fresh off an impressive showing in the Northwoods League Home Run Derby on Tuesday, Bumstead connected for his team-high sixth homer of the season with one out in the second. Bumstead turned on a pitch from Waterloo left-hander Zachary McLeod, slugging a no-doubt shot over the left field fence.
Bissonette followed up Bumstead's act one inning later with a towering long ball to left, just over the fence and the outstretched glove of the Bucks' leaping Keaton Presley. A three-run shot to give Willmar a 4-0 lead, it was Bissonette's fourth homer of the season and extended his on-base streak to 20 consecutive games.
Bumstead nearly hit one out in his next plate appearance in the third, but the ball died at the wall in left. To make amends, the Stingers third baseman plated two more runs on a ringing double to right field in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead and added a sacrifice fly in the eighth to finish with four RBIs.
Waterloo cut the deficit to two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings, both times putting the tying run in scoring position. The Bucks' best chance to capitalize came in the sixth, with runners on second and third with nobody out after Deion Thompson's two run-double. Braxton Johns and Connor Jahn combined to strike out two batters and end the inning with a grounder to escape any further damage.
Harrison Schnurbusch notched an RBI single on his first hit as a Stinger in the seventh for some insurance, as the offense tacked on two runs each inning between the sixth and eighth.
Willmar now hits the road for a two-game series in La Crosse over the weekend. Fourteen of the team's final 22 games will come away from home.
Willmar 11, Waterloo 4
Bucks 000 022 000-4 6 3
Stingers 013 021 22x-11 10 0
Hitting - Bucks: Deion Thompson 1-3 2b rbi-2 r, Jay Schuyler 1-3 r ... Stingers: Marcus Still 1-5, Luke Becker 0-2 bb-2 rbi r-2, Josh Bissonette 2-4 hr r-3 rbi-3, Danny Rodriguez 1-4 r, Nolan Bumstead 2-3 hr 2b rbi-4 r-2, Brady Shockey 1-4 r rbi bb, Caleb Ledbetter 1-2, Harrison Schnurbusch 1-1 r-2 rbi bb-2 hbp
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Bucks: Zachary McLeod (L) 4-3-4-4-4-4, Nathan Walker 2-3-3-3-2-1, Caleb Miley 1-1-2-0-1-0, Ben Sellers 1-3-2-2-1-1 ... Stingers: Nick Lackney (W) 5-3-2-2-2-5, Braxton Johns 0.1-3-2-2-1-1, Connor Jahn 2.2-0-0-0-0-2, Hayden Petrovick 1-0-0-0-2-0