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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WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers took a 5-0 lead in the first inning, but the Duluth Huskies kept chipping away and rallying for a 10-7 win Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers fell to 16-10 in the Northwoods League North Division and had their lead in the division cut to 1.5 games ahead of second-place Duluth. Willmar's magic number - the combination of Stinger wins and Huskie losses needed to clinch a playoff spot - remained at eight, with nine games remaining in the regular season. Down 7-0, the Huskies began their comeback with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
WILLMAR -- Forrestt Allday broke a 0-0 tie with a two-run, two-out double, and the Willmar Stingers beat the Rochester Honkers 4-2 on Monday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers increased their lead in the Northwoods League North Division to 1.5 games over Duluth, and their record now stands at 14-9. They face Rochester again at 7:05 p.m. today in Willmar. Pitching dominated the game early with Willmar's Kyle Fischer and Rochester's Jared Miller matching zeroes through four innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Zach Benson and J.D. Dorgan reached on two-out singles.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers are back in first place after beating the Duluth Huskies 7-6 on Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers, who went into the game trailing Duluth by half a game, switched places with the Huskies in the standings and now lead by half a game. Mitch Rowan homered and had three RBIs, and Dillon Haupt hit a go-ahead, two-out double in the sixth inning as Willmar rallied to come back from a four-run deficit. Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said the team's two-out hitting has been a big reason for the success of the offense.
WILLMAR -- There was no way Willmar Stingers' outfielder Forrestt Allday was going to swing on 3-0. Allday entered Thursday's game tied at 60 for the Northwoods League single-season walk record, and took three straight balls to lead off the game against Duluth Huskies' pitcher Max MacNabb. MacNabb's fourth pitch missed the strike zone and Allday took his 61st free pass of the season. "I wasn't going to swing until 3-2," Allday said.
WILLMAR -- Willmar pitcher Scott Lieser started for the first time since the first week of the season and came through with a strong performance to lead the Stingers past the Alexandria Beetles 5-1 on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers improved to 9-6 and are in second place in the Northwoods League North Division second half. They play 6:05 p.m. today at Thunder Bay. Lieser, a junior out of St. Cloud State, was a starter for the Stingers last season but had been pitching out of the bullpen for the past month.
Willmar Stingers' second baseman Kenny Roberts is hitting home runs at a near-record pace. Just past the halfway point of the Northwoods League season, the University of Alabama junior has already set the Stingers' franchise record for home runs in a season with 12 longballs, overtaking Blake Shepherd, who hit nine in 2011. But more impressively, Roberts is keeping pace with the all-time Northwoods League single-season homer record of 20, set by Mankato's Shaun Cooper last season.
WILLMAR -- Willmar's Corben Green extended his hitting streak to 20 games but the Waterloo Bucks topped the Stingers 6-4 on Monday at Bill Taunton Stadium. Waterloo's Thomas Lindauer hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Bucks a lead they wouldn't relinquish. After Willmar starter George Asmus gave up two first-inning runs, the Stingers got on the board with a Michael Suchy RBI-double in the bottom half of the first.
WILLMAR -- Corben Green spent this spring with Louisiana-Monroe trying to return to form after a knee injury that ended his 2011 season. He looked like he might be there after a 2-for-4 night with a grand slam in the Willmar Stingers' 6-5 win over St. Cloud on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. Green tore his ACL running to first base in the 14th game of the Warhawks' 2011 season and took a medical redshirt. He was batting .491 at the time of the injury, with eight doubles and one home run. "It's been a long process, but I feel OK now," Green said. "It was tough mentally and physically.
In a season when the area had two teams reach the state tournament, it's no surprise the 2012 All-Area Team is dominated by players from those squads. Lac qui Parle Valley, which lost to St. Agnes in the Class A title game Monday, led the way with four selections. The BOLD Warriors, who lost to Blackduck in the opening round of the Class A tournament, had three players selected, as did Morris/Chokio-Alberta.
WILLMAR -- Max Kuhn's fourth error of the game allowed the go-ahead run to score, and the Thunder Bay Border Cats beat the Willmar Stingers 7-3 on Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a home run by Kenny Roberts, but the Border Cats clawed back to score runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh before taking the lead with a four-run eighth. "We couldn't stop the bleeding," Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said.