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Willmar shades NLS in thriller

Willmar's Adam Fagerstrom, left, tags out New London-Spicer's Luke Peterson trying to steal second base in the first inning of a non-conference game at Green Lake Diamond Monday in Spicer. The teams were playing for the first time since 2001. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
New London-Spicer second baseman Taylor Dammermann forces Wilmar's Logan Birkland and throws on to first to complete a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded and end the second inning. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

SPICER -- They should do this more often if Monday's game is an indication of the entertainment value.

Meeting for the first time since 2001, Willmar edged New London-Spicer 3-2 at Green Lake Diamond before the largest crowd of the spring.

Typical of the game, it ended on a bang-bang double play with the would-be tying run crossing the plate.

Facing reliever Nathanial Swoyer, on for the first time, Kevin Soine and Luke Reiter singled to start the lower half of the seventh. With one out, and Soine on third, Jack Schwaegerl hit a grounder between short and third. Willmar shortstop Jordan Smith backhanded the ball, tossed to second baseman Matt Odom to force Reiter and on to first to Alec Saunders for the double play, ending the game.

In the fifth inning, Willmar catcher John Sawatzky blocked a pitch in the dirt and held the plate to tag out Reiter attempting to steal home.

In the sixth, the score tied 2-2, the Cardinals' Logan Birkland singled, Matt Odom walked and Smith singled up the middle to send Birkland across the plate.

In the bottom of the sixth, NLS courtesy runner Brandon Lange was thrown at home trying to score from second on a slow roller.

Andrew Bangen got the win with three innings of middle relief; Andrew Clancy took the loss after throwing five solid innings in relief.

Both starters -- Reiter for NLS and Justin Hamann for Willmar -- got out of big jams in the early innings.

In the second, Willmar scored one run but a crisp Soine to Taylor Dammermann to Jack Hartley double play with the bases loaded saved a second run.

In the third, Willmar had pushed across one run on an RBI single by Sawatzky. With the bases loaded and two outs, center fielder Luke Peterson made a diving catch of a deep fly hit by Adam Fagerstrom to save two runs, possibly three.

Hamann gave up consecutive no-out, hard-hit singles to Dammermann, Jared Williamson and then Caleb Friedrich for a run. But Hamann got the next three hitters in order to escape further damage and it was 1-1 after two.

Reiter went 3-for-3 to lead the Wildcats' 12-hitt attack. Smith, Josh Oesterich and Birkland had two hits each for the visitors.

Willmar 3, NLS 2

Willmar 011 001 0 -- 3 8 2

NL-Spicer 010 010 0 -- 2 12 2

HITTING - Willmar: Matt Odom 1-for-2, Jordan Smith 2-for-3, rbi; Josh Oesterich 2-for-3, 2b; Alec Saunders 1-for-4, rbi; Logan Birkland 2-for-3 ... New London-Spicer: Luke Peterson 2-for-4, Luke Reiter 3-for-3, 2b; Taylor Dammermann 1-for-3, Jack Hartley 1-for-4, Kevin Soine 1-for-3, Jared Williamson 2-for-2, Caleb Friedrich 2-for-3, rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Willmar: Justin Hamann 3-5-1-1-0-1, Andrew Bangen (W) 3-5-1-1-2-2, Nathanial Swoyer (S) 1-2-0-0-0-0 ... New London-Spicer: Luke Reiter 2-3-1-0-3-1, Andrew Clancy (L) 5-5-2-2-4-2