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NWL Baseball: Stingers keep pressure on

Willmar Stinger Danny Rodriguez watches his two-run home run clear the fence during the Stingers' four-run sixth inning of a Sunday game against Duluth at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Rodriguez' home run gave Willmar a 4-1 lead and the Stingers led the Huskies 6-1 in the seventh inning when the Tribune went to press. Curt Hogg / Tribune

WILLMAR - After dropping a 13-inning contest on Saturday night, the Willmar Stingers were once again partaking in some late-night baseball against the Duluth Huskies on Sunday.

But rain that delayed the game two hours didn't dampen the Stingers' offense in the late innings.

Danny Rodriguez hit a two-run home run and Nolan Bumstead and Luke Becker both drove in runs in the sixth and seventh innings to lead Willmar to a 6-2 victory in the team's final 2017 regular-season home game.

Stingers right-hander Joe Vranesic allowed just one run over 5-1/3 innings in a pitchers' duel with Duluth starter Ian Cassidy.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Becker laced an RBI triple to draw even at 1-1 and Bumstead hit a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 edge. But it was Rodriguez's two-run home run that punctuated things.

Rodriguez' shot gave the Stingers a 4-1 lead and Becker and Bumstead both singled in runs to put Willmar up 6-1 in the seventh.

Reliever Stone Kelly allowed a ninth-inning run on two hits while striking out six over the final 3-2/3 innings.

With Sunday's win, the Stingers remained tied with Mankato at 19-11 in the Northwoods League's North Division second-half race, one game behind Eau Claire.

The Stingers play at Waterloo at 6:35 p.m. today.

Saturday's Result

Duluth 11, Willmar 10

A back-and-forth marathon affair didn't go the Stingers' way in the end as a go-ahead single for the Duluth Huskies in the 13th inning proved to be the game-winner.

Playing the ninth-longest game in league history in terms of time of game, the Stingers made multiple comebacks with their backs against the wall, but still came away thinking about a handful of missed opportunities to win the game.

Trailing 9-6 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Marcus Still and Danny Rodriguez had RBI hits to set up Caleb Ledbetter's game-tying hit by pitch with the bases loaded and one out.

Tyler Reichenborn came to the plate next and was ahead in the count 3-0, but, one more ball away from a walk-off win, wound up striking out. Justus Nelson then grounded out to second to end the threat and send the game to extras.

In the 10th, after the Huskies plated a pair of runs, Luke Becker and Still scored runs to draw even at 10-10.

Duluth strung together a pair of walks with two outs to set up Isaac Collins' RBI double in the 13th to reclaim a one-run lead. The Stingers did not have another comeback in the works and the game came to an end after 5 hours, 13 minutes.

Rodriguez finished the game one triple of hitting for the cycle, going 4-for-6 with four RBIs. The Willmar first baseman hit a two-run home run in the first inning to take the team lead with seven dingers this season.

Huskies 203 010 002 200 1-11 16 0

Stingers 300 001 013 200 0-10 13 1

Hitting - Duluth: Isaac Collins 4-8 r-2 rbi, Rob Emery 2-4 r rbi-3 bb-2, Kyle Hubbuch 3-6 rbi-3 r, Chase Strumpf 2-4 hr r-4 rbi ... Willmar: Marcus Still 2-6 r-2 rbi 2b, Nolan Bumstead 2-5 r-2 rbi-2, Danny Rodriguez 4-6 hr rbi-4 r, Josh Bissonette 1-5, Caled Ledbetter 3-6 hr rbi-2 r, Harrison Schnurbusch 1-4 r, Luke Becker 0-4 r-3 bb-3

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Duluth: Gaylon Viney 5-5-3-3-3-3, Austin Truso (W) 3-2-0-0-1-1 ... Willmar: Connor Herd 3-5-5-5-2-0, Connor Jahn (L) 3-1-1-1-5-1

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. 

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