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Stingers drub 'Dogs

Willmar Stingers base runner Scotty Smith, right, dives at the plate to score on Sean Beesley’s second-inning single as Mankato MoonDogs catcher Ridge Smith awaits a throw during a Northwoods League game Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. The Stingers defeated the MoonDogs 6-2. Tribune photo by Tom Larson

WILLMAR — Sean Beesley had another multi-hit performance for Willmar and Stingers starter Brantley Claunch settled down after a rough start to help Willmar topple the visiting Mankato MoonDogs 6-2 Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The MoonDogs (4-4) sent up their first six hitters to the plate in the first inning and hit flyball after flyball to produce two quick runs off Claunch. Tyler Sullivan led off the game with a triple to right field and two batters later scored on Levi Scott’s sacrifice fly to center.

Back-to-back doubles from Spencer O’Neil and Ridge Smith followed to put Mankato up 2-0, but Claunch avoided any more damage by inducing an inning-ending groundball.

The Stingers (5-3) looked like they would answer in the bottom half of the first, but leadoff hitter Dan Motl was stranded on third base after the MoonDogs committed two errors.

But an inning later the Stingers didn’t disappoint their fans as they manufactured three runs to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Mankato starter Brock Dykxhoorn got a strikeout and a flyout to start the second, but Little Falls graduate Joey Hanowski doubled to center to keep the inning alive for Willmar. Alex Borglin then singled in Hanowski before Dykxhoorn walked Scotty Smith and Motl to load the bases. Beesley followed with a single to knock in Borglin and Smith before Dykxhoorn notched a strikeout to get out of the inning.

The three-run frame knocked Dykxhoorn out of the game and gave Claunch a big enough lead to earn the win. The left-hander didn’t allow any more runs after the first and scattered 10 hits over six innings of work. Josh Matheson hurled three hitless innings of relief to preserve the Stingers’ third win in four games.

Beesley finished 3-for-5 to pick up half of Willmar’s six hits and increase hit batting average on the year to .313. The outfielder from Illinois State had an RBI groundout in the fourth and capped the scoring with an RBI single in the eighth.

Motl added an RBI single in the fourth.

The Stingers now host Duluth in a two-game set that starts today at 7:05 p.m.