Looking at the final score, you never would have guessed how the first seven innings of Monday night's game between the Willmar Stingers and Waterloo Bucks transpired.
Stingers right-hander Luke Chevalier was dominant, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a scoreless tie before both offenses woke up in the final two frames and the Stingers edged the Bucks 6-4.
Through seven innings, Chevalier worked in a scoreless tie, striking out five batters while vying for the second no-hit bid in Willmar history. The only no-hitter ever thrown by the Stingers was a combined effort in 2010, but the team still lost 4-2 thanks to five walks and three errors.
Willmar plated four runs in the top of the eighth to open the scoring, and when Chevalier came out to open the eighth, Waterloo's Anthony Warneke brought an end to the no-hit bid with a double to left field.
The double ended Chevalier's outing, bringing his season ERA down to 3.90. The Northern State product picked up the win, moving him to 2-1 over 50-2/3 innings this season.
With the win, Willmar inched closer to a playoff spot, Willmar can clinch a spot in the Northwoods League playoffs with a win over the Bucks on Tuesday.
The Stingers remained one game behind first-place Eau Claire in the Northwoods League's North Division second-half race.
The Bucks scored two runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to drive a scare into the Stingers until the very end. With two outs in the ninth, Dalton Hurd flew out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Luke Becker delivered the biggest hit of the game for the Stingers, a three-run double with two outs in the eighth to take a 4-0 lead. The bases-clearing hit followed Harrison Schnurbusch's bases-loaded walk to open the scoring one batter before.
Josh Bissonette added an RBI single in the ninth and Carter Schmidt drove in Willmar's sixth run with a bases-loaded walk of his own.
Schmidt reached base in all five of his plate appearances on the night with two hits and three walks.
Myles Smith earned the save, taking over for Kale Latorre in the ninth inning.
Even before surrendering a hit to lead off the eighth, it was unlikely that Chevalier would have been able to complete the no-hitter by himself. His pitch count sat at 96 pitches entering the inning. Northwoods League rules do not allow for a pitcher to begin a new inning after reaching 100 pitches.
Willmar 6, Waterloo 4
Stingers 000 000 042-6 5 1
Bucks 000 000 022-4 3 2
Hitting - Willmar: Luke Becker 1-4 2b rbi-3, Josh Bissonete 1-4 rbi, Alex Reyes 1-3 2b r bb-2, Carter Schmidt 2-2 r rbi bb-3, Harrison Schnurbusch 0-3 bb-2 r rbi ... Waterloo: Nicola Mislinski 1-4 rbi-2, Anthony Warneke 1-4 r 2b
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Luke Chevalier (W) 7-1-1-1-3-5, Kale Latore 1-2-3-2-3-0, Myles Smith (SV) 1-0-0-0-1-0 ... Waterloo: Ryan Dunne 5-2-0-0-3-8, Jacob Carlisle 1.1-0-0-0-2-1, Carlisle Koestler (L) 1.2-2-4-4-2-1, Brandon Downey 1-1-2-1-2-3