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Two home runs helps Willmar rally past Honkers, 8-5

ROCHESTER -- Eduardo Gonzalez continued his hot hitting, coming through in the clutch and leading Willmar past Rochester 8-5 on Tuesday at Mayo Field.

The Stinger first baseman capped a five-run seventh with a pinch-hit, two-out single off Honker reliever Kyle Sursley to break a 5-5 tie.

Willmar increased its record to 14-12 in the Northwoods League second half and is tied for third place with St. Cloud. They trail first-place Alexandria by 4½ games.

Willmar was down 5-2 before Blake Shepherd homered against Rochester reliever Zach Ransom to lead off the seventh inning. Mitch Rowan was then hit by a pitch, and the Stingers loaded the bases with a Jason Leblebijian single and a walk from Sean Dwyer. Pat Stover drove in Rowan with a sacrifice fly to chase Ransom from the game. Sursley came in and hit Jarid Scarafiotti with a pitch before Gonzalez came through to give the Stingers the lead.

Gonzalez increased his batting average to a league-leading .351 with a 1-for-2 night.

Dwyer also had a big night, going 3-for-3 with a walk, a home run and three runs scored.

The Stingers started strong, scoring two runs in the first inning, but gave up the lead when the Honkers scored two runs in the third and one in the fourth off Willmar starter Ben Burns.

Rochester extended its lead to 5-2 in the sixth when Stinger reliever Chris Gonzales gave up two runs on two singles, a walk and a wild pitch. Gonzales got the win in relief after Willmar took the lead in the seventh.

Jack Shannon picked up the save for the Stingers, pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth.

Burns went five innings, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out two.