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Stingers edge MoonDogs to keep pace with first-place Waterloo

(Tribune photo by Ben Brewster) Willmar starter Chris Kubitz works against the Mankato MoonDogs Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Kubitz worked into the sixth inning and earned the win after allowing just three hits and one run while striking out six.

WILLMAR — Chris Kubitz delivered another strong outing and Marc Flores homered as the Willmar Stingers tripped up the Mankato MoonDogs on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Kubitz, the big lefthander from St. Cloud State, kept the MoonDogs off-balance all night with velocity in the high 80s and a tough slider.

“He’s been outstanding,” Stingers’ manager Matt Hollod said. “The angle that he’s coming at you with is like Randy Johnson out there with his delivery.”

Kubitz struck out 6 in 5 2/3 innings but had to leave due to a high pitch count.

He leads the Stingers in innings this season with 16 2/3, and lowered his ERA to 2.16.

Willmar strung rallies together to go ahead on a run-scoring double by Danny Brennan in the second and a Max Kuhn RBI base hit in the third.

Flores provided the pop with a home run that bounced off the scoreboard in deep right-center. 

“(Flores) was in a little bit of a funk the past few games,” Hollod said. “That was an off-speed pitch. He kept his hands back and was able to adjust. I think he’ll be fine.”

It was Flores’ second home run of the season, the first coming on opening day, and he leads the team in that department.

The power numbers are down for the Stingers, coming off a 2012 season when they set a team record with 64 home runs that was third-highest in the league.

“It’s just the team that we have,” Hollod said. “You just adjust to who you have. Power’s not a necessity.”

They’ve done fine without it, improving to 9-5 and holding onto second place in the Northwoods League North Division, a half-game behind the Waterloo Bucks.

Flores’ homer was Willmar’s eighth, which ties them for sixth in the league.

Mankato scored in the fifth when Alex Polston reached on a walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a balk by Kubitz before scoring on a Krysthian Leal sacrifice fly.

Josh Matheson, selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 19th round of the MLB draft last week, relieved Kubitz and turned in 2 1/3 scoreless innings with Brewers’ scouts in attendance.

Hollod said the Brewers will keep an eye on Matheson over the summer before signing him, as they have his rights until next season.

Bret Dahlson set the MoonDogs down in order for the save, striking out 2.

Notes: Steven Brault, drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round, has left the team … 2012 Stinger Forrestt Allday, drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round, and was assigned to Boston’s Lowell (Mass.) affiliate … 2011-12 Stinger Scott Lieser signed a professional contract with the Milwaukee Brewers as an undrafted free agent Thursday … the Colorado Rockies have signed draftees 2012 Stinger Jerad McCrummen and 2010-11 Stinger Sean Dwyer; both players were assigned to the Rockies’ rookie ball affiliate Tri-City (Wash.) Dust Devils. … the Los Angeles Dodgers signed 26th round pick, 2011 Stinger Thomas Taylor

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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