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Stingers: Four Willmar players shine in All-Star Game

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Willmar Stingers All-Stars (left to right) Gus Varland, Marcus Still, Polo Portela and Nolan Bumstead pose before the Northwoods League All-Star Game on Tuesday. Submitted photo.2 / 3
Willmar Stingers pitcher Gus Varland delivers a pitch as the sun sets during the Northwoods League All-Star Game in Wausau on Tuesday. Submitted photo.3 / 3

Performing on the big stage on Tuesday night in Wausau, the Willmar Stingers' four All-Stars didn't disappoint.

Despite the North Division losing the Northwoods League All-Star Game 6-2, the Stingers' Nolan Bumstead, Polo Portela, Marcus Still and Gus Varland all had memorable performances.

Nolan Bumstead opened the evening's festivities with a three-homer showing in the Home Run Derby, which was made more impressive given the event's format that allowed just six outs for each hitter. Bumstead and Rochester's Zach Zubia, who hit five homers to take home the individual title, accounted for eight of the North Division team's 13 long balls as they came away with a 13-11 win.

Bumstead's three dingers were tied for the second-most of any of the 18 candidates.

Portela, a viable candidate to start the game with a 1.24 ERA, instead came on to pitch the second inning. The right-hander's time on the mound as an All-Star didn't last long, as he needed just seven pitches to get through a scoreless frame.

Portela surrendered a single to the first batter he faced, Kenosha's Derek Bangert, but erased that very quickly with a 4-6-3 double play four pitches later. Mix in a groundout to third base for the third out, and Portela's inning ended like most of his have this season: scoreless.

The Stingers' strong showing continued immediately after Portela left the game, as Still singled to lead off the third inning and would later come around to score. The Willmar center fielder--the only Stinger to start Tuesday's All-Star game--legged out a hit to the shortstop and would advance to third with two outs before scoring on a wild pitch to put the North up 2-1.

Still grounded and in the first and struck out in the fifth to finish 1-for-3. The league-leader in stolen bases with 31, he didn't get a chance to swipe one in the game, with Andy Weber following his base hit with a single of his own on the first pitch in the third.

The league ERA leader Varland inherited the fourth inning and followed in Portela's footsteps with a three-up, three-down frame. The right-hander impressed, striking out the last two batters after inducing a groundout to open the frame.

The game was tied at 2-2 until the bottom of the eighth, when the South plated four runs to pull away for the win.

NWL South 6, NWL North 2

North 011 000 000-2 9 3

South 100 010 04x-6 9 0

Hitting - North All-Stars: Marcus Still (Willmar) 1-3 r, Zach Gilles 1-2, Andy Weber 2-4, Nolan Bumstead (Willmar) 0-1, Toby Hanson 1-4, Shane Selman 2-4, Jay Schuyler 1-2 r, Ethan Valdez 1-1 rbi ... South All-Stars: Stevie Mangrum 2-3 2b rbi-2 r, Derek Bangert 2-2 hr rbi r

Partial Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - North All-Stars: Polo Portela (Willmar) 1-1-0-0-0-0-, Gus Varland (Willmar) 1-0-0-0-0-2, Victor Chavez (L) 0.1-2-2-2-0-1 ... South All-Stars: Connor Manous (W) 0.2-0-0-0-1-0

Curt Hogg

Curt Hogg is a sports reporter at the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016.