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 -- Jordan Smith is moving his way up the ladder. The Cleveland Indians prospect and Willmar native finished up his first spring training this weekend and was assigned to the Lake County Captains on Tuesday. The Captains, based in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, are in the low Class-A Midwest League, the lowest class of the minors that plays a full season. The Captains' season opener will be Thursday at Fort Wayne (Ind.). Smith said he originally thought he might be assigned to the high Class-A Carolina Mudcats, but the Indians sent him to Lake County instead.
Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) hit a walk-off single over the left field fence in the 11th inning of Saturday's game to give the Lumberjacks a 4-3 win over UT-San Antonio. The sophomore infielder's game-winner would have been a home run had he not passed the runner on the base paths as he was rounding first base. It was Dozier's third hit of the game to push his season batting average to .352. The hit would have been his seventh home run. Even with the loss of that shot, he leads the team in home runs (6), batting average, RBIs (16), slugging percentage (.648), hits (32) and runs (19).
MOORHEAD -- Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa is headed to the Minnesota Class A state tournament a second straight year after a dominating 80-38 victory over Ada-Borup to win Section 6A on Friday at Concordia College in Moorhead. The Jaguars (30-0) jumped out to a 32-7 lead at 8:30 in the first half and didn't look back. "We just came out on fire," BBE head coach Dave Montbriand said. "Forced turnover after turnover and turned them into baskets." Connor Goodwin's double-double paced the Jaguars with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Stingers solidified their pitching with the addition of four hurlers on Thursday, including a Minnesota Gopher freshman. The Stingers' pitching staff now sits at 11, and the total roster size at 24 players. One of the newcomers is Minnesota's Lance Thonvold, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native and graduate of Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.
WILLMAR -- Willmar native and former Stinger Jordan Smith will be honored this season with the Stingers' first bobblehead giveaway. Smith had a standout season for the Stingers in 2010 and was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft. He played last season with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, Ohio) of the short-season New York-Penn League. Smith reported to the Indians' spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Tuesday.
Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs in a loss to Portland on Feb. 19 ... Zach Benson (Stephen F. Austin) went 1-for-2 with two walks Feb. 19 ... Mike Hollenbeck (Illinois State) went 0-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI against Austin Peay on Feb. 19 ... Kenny Roberts (Alabama) hit his first home run for the Crimson Tide, a three-run shot in a loss to Florida Atlantic on Feb. 19, after transferring from Meridian Community College; Roberts is batting .250 so far with four RBIs ...
By Ben Brewster email@example.com WILLMAR -- Today is a big day for college baseball openers -- 15 Willmar Stingers players will be in action for the first time this season. Five members of the Stingers' 2012 roster already debuted in the past two weeks. The top performers so far have been outfielder Mitch Rowan (Willamette University) and pitcher Scott Lieser (St. Cloud State). Rowan, through his first three games, has three hits in nine at bats, all for extra bases -- a double, triple and home run. He also has five walks and a .563 on-base percentage.
WILLMAR -- At a Northwoods League game, you never know which players could turn into a future star. On Stingers opening night, a former one will be in attendance. Bret Saberhagen, former Kansas City Royals ace and two-time Cy Young winner, will be a special guest for the Stingers' opener against the Mankato Moon Dogs on May 30. Saberhagen's son, Drew, is the manager for the Alexandria Beetles. Drew also pitched for the Beetles for four seasons and was an assistant coach last year before getting the manager position for the upcoming season.
Less than a year after being drafted, Willmar native Jordan Smith has already started to make his mark in professional baseball. Smith, a 2009 graduate of Willmar High School, made his pro debut last season with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a minor league team for the Cleveland Indians. He made quick work of the league, being named to the All-Star Team and finishing among the league leaders in several offensive categories. Coming up next for Smith will be his first spring training. He reports to the Indians' spring complex in Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 28.
WILLMAR -- A minority owner of the Willmar Stingers bought the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League as part of an ownership group, the league said. A press conference Wednesday in St. Cloud announced the sale, which was completed Jan. 25. Gary Posch, who owns a minority percentage of the Stingers, was one of the initial investors with Ryan Voz and Marc Jerzak, who purchased the Stingers in 2010. "I knew them when they worked at the St. Cloud franchise and had worked with them on corporate sponsorships and that sort of thing," Posch said.