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Brault, Stingers beat Cats in opener

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Steven Brault delivers the first pitch of the Willmar Stingers’ fourth season Wednesday at Baker Field. The second-year Stinger, from El Cajon, Calif., struck out the side in the first and went on to get the win, allowing two hits and no runs over six innings.

WILLMAR — Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Willmar Stingers in their first game of 2013, beating the Thunder Bay Border Cats 7-1 on Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Steven Brault took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out eight, and Kyle Perry was 3-for-4 with a grand slam.

Brault struck out the side in the first and shut down the Border Cats for five innings before surrendering a leadoff single up the middle to Border Cats’ catcher Jacob Rogers. He gave up one more hit in the inning but escaped without allowing a run.

“Steven set the tone right away,” Stingers’ manager Matt Hollod said. “He was outstanding.”

Usually a catcher but playing centerfield Wednesday, Perry said he’s looking forward to catching Brault.

“He was lights out,” Perry said. “That was awesome to play behind. He’s got something special.”

The Stinger bats gave Brault plenty of support.

Willmar loaded the bases in the second inning on two walks and a hit batter and Perry yanked a grand slam to the left-field corner on a 2-2 fastball.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Perry said. “Just trying to get a sacrifice fly and help the team.”

He hit .288 for Monmouth this season but hadn’t homered since his freshman year of college in the spring of 2012.

Perry also scored the first run of the game when he beat out an infield single to lead off the game. He reached second on a fielder’s choice and Marc Flores drove him on a double to deep left-center. 

Flores was also 3-for-4, and he and Perry accounted for all six of the Stingers’ hits. They were each a triple shy of the cycle. 

Flores homered to lead off the fifth inning and give the Stingers a 6-0 lead.

The Border Cats scored in the seventh on a Kyle Westhuis RBI single off Andrew Crook, who pitched two innings of relief.

Cody Hughes shut the door with a scoreless ninth.

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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