Weather Forecast


NWL baseball: Stingers, Towns shut down Huskies

Tribune photo by Tom Larson Willmar Stingers shortstop Brian Pruett sidesteps Duluth’s Mac James and throws to first to complete a double play on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.1 / 2
Tribune photo by Tom Larson Willmar Stingers pitcher Andrew Towns delivers a pitch in the first inning on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium.2 / 2

WILLMAR — Another day, another shutout for the Willmar Stingers.

Behind a complete game gem from Andrew Towns, the Stingers blanked the Duluth Huskies 5-0 on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium, their second shutout in a row.

Towns, a 6-foot-2 lefthander out of Walters State Ccommunity College in Morristown, Tennessee, struck out four and scattered three hits and a walk in a game completed in just 1 hour, 55 minutes.

Pitching mostly out of the bullpen during the spring, Towns said he couldn’t even remember his last shutout, but that it was probably in high school.

“I was keeping guys off their feet and keeping them guessing,” Towns said. “I had fastball, curveball, slider. The changeup was a little off but I worked with it and used my defense.”

The Stingers were stellar in the field again, turning two double plays, and really turned in the highlight reel plays in the ninth.

Leading off the final frame, Stingers’ second baseman Max Dutto charged a slow ground ball and threw out Duluth’s Max Bartlett by a hair.

Right fielder Dan Motl immediately one-upped Dutto, laying out fully extended for two diving catches for the second and third outs to end the game.

“Unbelievable,” Towns said. “All of those should be on the SportsCenter Top 10. Can’t get much better than that.”

Motl provided some offense to go with his glove, clubbing a two-run homer to deep left-center to put the Stingers up 4-0 in the seventh inning.

Max Ayoub also homered, a two-run shot in the fourth, his second of the season.

The four-run cushion was more than enough for the Stingers.

“It’s tough to lose when you don’t give up a run in two days,” Stingers’ manager Drew Saberhagen said.

The closest the Huskies came to scoring was when Keach Ballard doubled to deep right on Towns’ first pitch of the second inning. He took third on a groundout, but Towns escaped with a strikeout and groundout to end the threat.

“(Towns) had three pitches anytime he wanted,” Saberhagen said. “He was flipping that breaking ball in there and his fastball command was just outstanding. You’re going to get a lot of outs like that.”

The Stingers knocked seven hits, two from Motl, and did most of their damage off losing pitcher Kevin Peters, who went 6.1 innings and gave up both home runs.

Willmar scored one more in the eighth on Alex Borglin’s RBI single.

Towns’ shutout came the day after Brady Anderson tossed eight innings of one-hit ball on Wednesday.

“We’ve got really good pitching, that’s for sure,” Towns said. “Guys are going deep in games and giving us a chance every time we come out.”

Willmar moved into a three-way, first-place tie in the Northwoods League North Division with a 7-3 record. They play 7:05 p.m. today against Alexandria at Bill Taunton Stadium.

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.

(320) 214-4332