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Willmar bumped from lead

BRAINERD -- Brainerd's Kyle Crocker tamed Willmar on four hits to win a pitcher's duel with Nathaniel Swoyer 2-0 in Central Lakes Conference baseball.

Crocker fanned nine Cardinals and didn't walk a batter.

Swoyer held the Warriors (9-4, 16-4) to four hits, one of those a solo home run by Tom Fairbanks in the fifth inning. Swoyer struck out two and walked one.

"He's done everything we've asked of him," Willmar coach Brad Dean said of his right-handed starter. "He did a nice job giving us a chance to win."

Willmar (8-5, 9-8) fell a game behind Brainerd and Rocori with the loss.

The Cardinals were poised to take an early lead in the top of the first as Logan Birkland and Matt Odom each singled. But Willmar's offense sputtered with two strikeouts and a fielder's choice.

"What it came down to was that they got the big hits. We got the first two guys on in the game, but we didn't score," Dean said.

Brainerd scored in the third inning when Crocker doubled to left-center field to score Fairbanks, who singled.

Jordan Smith doubled and Josh Oesterich had a single for the other two Willmar hits.

Brainerd 2, Willmar 0

Willmar 000 000 0 -- 0 4 2

Brainerd 001 010 x -- 2 4 1

HITTING - Willmar: Logan Birkland 1-for-3; Matt Odom 1-for-3; Jordan Smith 1-for-2, 2b; Josh Oesterich 1-for-3 ... Brainerd: Kyle Crocker 1-for-3, 2b, rbi, Tom Fairbanks 2-for-2, 2 runs, solo HR, rbi; Desmond Janousek 1-for-2

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Willmar: Nathaniel Swoyer (L) 6-4-2-2-1-2 ... Brainerd: Kyle Crocker (W) 7-4-0-0-0-9