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 lack of pitching depth came back to haunt the Willmar Stingers as they fell to the Mankato MoonDogs 10-5 on Monday at Bill Taunton Stadium in their first-ever Northwoods League playoff game. Stingers' starting pitcher Tanner Banks cruised through the first three innings but then threw more than 35 pitches in a three-run fourth inning. According to Northwoods League rules, if a pitcher surpasses 35 in an inning he can't stay in the game. "The worst thing that could possibly happen, happened," Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said.
WILLMAR -- It took three years and two second-place finishes, but the Willmar Stingers have made the playoffs. Willmar, which entered Saturday's game with a half-game lead in the Northwoods League North Division, beat the Thunder Bay Border Cats 9-2. The win over Thunder Bay, paired with a dramatic finish Saturday in which the Rochester Honkers rallied past St. Cloud with an eighth-inning grand slam, wrapped up the second-half North Division title for the Stingers. Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said he'd been paying attention to the St.
WILLMAR -- Working with a patched-together lineup, the Willmar Stingers fell to the Mankato MoonDogs 6-0 Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium and extended the race for a postseason spot into the final weekend of the Northwoods League second half. The Stingers hung onto their half-game division lead in the North Division, as the second-place St. Cloud Rox lost to the Waterloo Bucks. With two games remaining in the regular season, the winner could come down to the final game. The Alexandria Beetles beat the Rochester Honkers to move into a tie with St. Cloud for second place.
WILLMAR -- Clinging to a half-game division lead entering the day, the Willmar Stingers inched closer to a playoff spot with a 8-3 win over the Mankato MoonDogs on Thursday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers gained ground on Alexandria in the Northwoods League North Division and lead the Beetles by two games with three regular-season games remaining. Willmar's closest competitor, the St. Cloud Rox, beat Waterloo 11-10 in 11 innings, and trail the Stingers by a half-game in the standings. "I don't think St. Cloud's going to lose again," Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said.
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.