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Dozier leads Stingers over Bucks

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Willmar's Hunter Dozier follows through on a first-inning single Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Dozier had two singles and a home run.

WILLMAR -- Hunter Dozier made quite an impression in his first home game with the Willmar Stingers.

The shortstop out of Stephen F. Austin singled twice and hit a go-ahead home run, his first for the Stingers, to lead Willmar in a 13-8 slugfest over the Waterloo Bucks on Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

After losing their first five games of the season, the Stingers have won three in a row and are in a tie for fourth place in the Northwoods North Division. They play Waterloo again 7:05 p.m. today in Willmar.

The Stingers knocked 12 hits and walked 13 times to score early and often against the Bucks, who entered the game undefeated.

Willmar got on the board first when J.D. Dorgan led off the third inning with a single up the middle. Mitch Rowan advanced him to third on a single. Rowan was picked off straying too far from first after his single, and Steven Brault followed with a single to score Dorgan.

Brault was caught stealing and Dozier then crushed a solo home run to deep left-center.

"It was nice to play well in your first home game," Dozier said. "I was seeing the ball pretty well today."

Dozier had three RBIs and scored two runs.

The Stingers put up five more in the fourth on two hits, a hit batter and three walks. They kept pouring it on with three in fifth and three in the sixth.

Rowan and Dorgan each had two-hit performances, and Brault had two hits and three RBIs to raise his team-leading batting average to .433.

The Bucks rallied in the eighth inning, plating three runs on five walks and one hit against Willmar relievers Kody Gorden and Josh Hoekstra. With two outs in the inning, Brault came in from left field to pitch and struck out Sean Borman on three pitches with the bases loaded, touching 90 mph with his fastball.

Brault started the ninth, but struggled with his control and Andre Wheeler came in to record the final out.

Wildness was a common theme, as the two teams combined for 24 walks.

Lost in the offensive explosion was starting pitcher Andrew Pulido having a strong start after struggling in his Stingers' debut last week. Pulido completed six innings, allowing two runs and striking out four.

Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said he's seeing signs of improvement after Willmar's tough start to the season.

"We started off rough," Hollod said. "A little poor play, bad starting pitching, untimely lack of hitting, and a little bit of bad luck too. It feels good to get a couple wins and everything's starting to come together a little bit ... hopefully we can keep it going."

Notes: Max Kuhn made his Stingers debut with a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth inning, drawing a leadoff walk ... Corben Green (La.-Monroe) will join the Stingers on Monday in Duluth ... Dillon Haupt (San Diego) will also debut next week

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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