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Stingers shut out Thunder Bay

(Tribune photo by Rand Middleton) Willmar left-handed starter Chris Kubitz delivers a pitch in second inning against Thunder Bay Thursday in Willmar.

WILLMAR — A strikeout doesn’t often spark a rally, but it did for the Willmar Stingers in their 4-0 win over the Thunder Bay Border Cats on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Stingers improved to 2-0 in the Northwoods League North Division. They host the Waterloo Bucks 7:05 p.m. today before going on a four-game road trip through Tuesday.

Nick Halamandaris struck out to lead off the second inning but the third strike was dropped by Border Cats’ catcher Jacob Rogers, and Halamandaris took second base when Rogers’ throw sailed into right field.

Halamandaris came around to score on a Chris Barnett sacrifice fly and Kyle Perry drove in Colton Bottomley, who had walked, on bloop double to left field that just hit the chalk line to stay fair.

With the storm closing in, the Stingers added one more on a Michael Suchy RBI single. Suchy finished 3-for-4 as the second-year player collect half of the team’s six hits. Thunder Bay piled up seven hits, with three coming from left fielder Kyle Westhuis.

Chris Kubitz blanked Thunder Bay for five innings, striking out four and walking just one to pick up the win. TJ Whidby then got the ball after the rain delay ended and went the remainder of the game to earn a save. Whidby scattered four hits and four strikeouts in four innings of work.

Tyler Leffler, starting at shortstop for the Stingers, stifled a Border Cats’ rally in the third when he threw out Tyler Pell at first base by half a step with two outs and runners on second and third.

The Stingers left 16 runners on base and did not collect an extra-base hit.

Border Cats starter John Havird was hampered by seven walks in 3-2/3 innings of work.

Notes: The Stingers are missing nine players whose teams are still alive in the College World Series: No. 4 seed St. Louis (Nick Bates, Alec Sole, Danny Brennan) plays No. 1 South Carolina in the College World Series Columbia Regional today in a double elimination format … No. 3 San Francisco (Abe Bobb, Sheldon Lee) faces No. 2 Rice in the Eugene Regional … San Diego (Logan Davis, Max Homick, Drew Jacobs) will get Cal Poly in the Los Angeles Regional … No. 4 Central Arkansas (Logan Moon) faces No. 1 Mississippi State in the Starkville Regional … former Stingers still playing in Regionals include Kenny Roberts (Alabama), Mikey Reynolds (Texas A&M), Dillon Haupt (San Diego) and Forrestt Allday (Central Arkansas).

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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