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NWL Baseball: Big 9th sparks Stingers to win over Express

Tribune Staff Report

EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin — It was the kind of game that causes coaches and managers to tug their hair up by the roots.

But the Willmar Stingers aren’t going to fret too much after they scored five runs in the ninth inning to break open a tie game and defeat the Eau Claire Express 11-6 on Thursday.

The Stingers broke a two-game winless streak — and a two-game scoreless streak — to remain within one game of Waterloo in the Northwoods League’s overall season standings. They are 1.5 games behind the Bucks in the North Division’s second half of the season.

The overall mark is important because the Stingers won the North’s first half and are assured a postseason spot but would need to finish ahead of the Bucks overall to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Stingers play one more game at Eau Claire tonight before finishing the regular season with a two-game set against Waterloo at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Bucks stayed clear of the second-place Stingers and Mankato, which are tied for second in the season’s second half.

The Stingers will need a better effort to stay in the hunt for home-field.

Starter Kurt Yinger walked seven Express hitters and gave up four earned runs in five innings.

Relievers Will Lydon and Matt Geislinger were effective in relief. Lydon allowed a run in 2.2 innings and Geislinger picked up the win, striking out three in 1.1 innings.

The Stingers were the beneficiaries of seven Express walks and five errors. Express catcher Lane Milligan was charged with three errors and the Stingers stole eight bases.

Reagan Fowler had three hits and drove in two runs, and Joey Hanowski had two hits and two RBIs, and Sean Beesley and Tyler Cohen both had two hits.