Stingers sweep road series
The Willmar Stingers had it all on display Sunday afternoon as they cruised to a 7-1 win over La Crosse and completed a two-game series sweep on the road.
That moves the Stingers into a virtual tie for first place in the North division with Mankato on the back of a four game winning streak.
Tyler Oldenberg had things going early on the mound. His lone blemish was a run allowed in the sixth inning. That proved to be the only time the Loggers could scratch a run across Sunday. Oldenberg finished his start with seven strikeouts and five hits allowed in six innings.
Luke Becker got the offense started with a solo home run to start the fourth inning, his third of the year. The Stingers, winners in eight of their last 10 games, added another in the fifth before tallying five more runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Caleb Ledbetter finished the game a perfect 3-for-3 from the box.
Willmar starts a two-game homestand with the Rochester Honkers today. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Willmar 7, La Crosse 1
Willmar 000 110 320-7 7 2
La Crosse 000 001 000-1 6 0
Hitting - Stingers: Luke Becker 1-5 hr rbi r, Nolan Bumstead 1-3 r-2, Caleb Ledbetter 3-3 r-2, Harrison Schnurbusch 1-2 rbi, Tyler Murray 1-3 rbi ... Loggers: Kennie Taylor 2-4 2b r
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Stingers: Tyler Oldenberg (W) 6-5-1-1-1-7, Braxton Johns 1-0-0-0-0-1, Corey Binger 2-1-0-0-0-1 ... Loggers: Derik Beauprez (L) 6-5-4-3-1-6, Pat Kenny 1.2-2-3-3-1-0, Jimmy Croley 1.1-0-0-0-2-1
Willmar 5, La Crosse 2
It's tough to be any better than Stinger starter Gus Varland has been this year but he one-upped himself Saturday with six innings of scoreless ball in a 5-2 victory over La Crosse.
Varland struck out three and walked nobody, only needing 75 pitches to make it through six innings in line with the win. That now lowers his season ERA to 0.89, a number that would lead the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
Varland was lights out but Luke Becker did his best to steal the show. He went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBIs.
Willmar 000 030 011-5 6 1
La Crosse 000 000 270-2 7 0
Hitting - Stingers: Marcus Still 1-4 r, Luke Becker 2-2 2b rbi-3 r, Caleb Ledbetter 2-4 r, Harrison Schnurbusch 1-3 rbi r ... Loggers: Kennie Taylor 2-4 2b, Jeremy Ydens 2-4
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Stingers: Gus Varland (W) 6-5-0-0-0-3, Connor Herd 2-1-2-2-1-2, Arthur Reyes (Sv) 1-1-0-0-0-0 ... Loggers: Cody Ebert (L) 6-4-3-3-3-4, Mason McMahon 3-2-2-2-1-1
Brault back to the Bigs
Former Willmar Stinger Steven Brault made his major league debut last season for the Pittsburgh Pirates but couldn't crack the team's 25-man roster following spring training. Since then, he's been nothing short of sensational in Indianapolis, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates, and a recent injury to outfielder Gregory Polanco has the southpaw back in a Pittsburgh uniform.
Brault, who pitched for the Stingers in 2012 and 2013, posted a league-best 2.06 ERA and fourth-best WHIP (1.13) in 100-1/3 innings.The 25-year-old posted an 8-4 record on the way to earning a spot on the International League's All-Star team.
Now on his second call-up to the big leagues, Brault will continue to search for his first MLB win. He was 0-3 with a 4.86 ERA in eight games last season.
His first MLB outing of 2017 didn't go exactly as planned. He allowed two runs off two hits and a walk in one inning of work in Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.