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Stingers foiled by Thunder Bay, 6-3, Leblebijian drives in all three runs

WILLMAR -- After rallying from a 4-0 deficit to win their season opener on Wednesday, the Willmar Stingers found themselves down 4-0 again Thursday night. This time, there would be no comeback as Thunder Bay limited the Stingers to just three hits en route to a 6-3 Northwoods League triumph at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Jason Leblebijian, a shortstop from Bradley University, singled in the Stingers' first run in the first inning and swatted a tworun homer in the sixth inning after Tyler Zupcic reached on an error.

The Border Cats finished with 10 hits off four Willmar pitchers.

Thunder Bay (1-1) had three hits in the first inning to help account for the four runs. Kevin Taylor rapped a run-scoring double and Mike Hubbard and Steve Rindelaub had RBI singles.

Kody Gorden started on the mound for the Stingers and hurled four innings while allowing seven hits. He gave up five runs, but only two were earned. He walked one and struck out four.

Michael Shreves came on in the fifth inning and tossed three scoreless innings, giving up just one hit while fanning three. Chris Gonzales gave up one hit and no runs in an inning of relief. Jake Stinnett was touched for one hit and one run in the ninth inning. He struck out two. The four moundsmen combined for eight strikeouts.

John Straka pitched 51/3 innings for the win, allowing two hits and three runs. He walked four and struck out four. Donnie White got the save.

The attendance was 787 after drawing 1,187 for the opener. Thursday's game was Umbrella Night where fans received a free Stingers black and white umbrella

Jared Scarafiotti, who missed the opener because of college commitments at Stephen F. Austin, arrived in Willmar Thursday and made the start behind the plate. He had the only other hit for the Stingers, a single.

Willmar committed five errors in the game.

Willmar and Thunder Bay wrap up their threegame series tonight at Bill Taunton Stadium for Baseball Cap Night. The first 300 fans will receive a Stingers baseball cap.

The Stingers will then take to the road for four days, Saturday and Sunday in Rochester to take on the Honkers and then Monday and Tuesday in Alexandria to face the Beetles.