WILLMAR—One day before a critical doubleheader, the Willmar Stingers stumbled Sunday night, dropping a 9-4 game to Rockford. Ricardo Ramirez and Ryan Long each had home runs to lead the Rivets. After falling behind 5-0, the Stingers made things tight with two-run innings in the fifth and seventh. But Ramirez put the game away in the top of the ninth when he blasted a three-run homer off Anthony Garza. Justin Toerner had two hits a team-high three RBIs for Willmar. He hit a two-run home run in the fifth and drove in another run with a seventh-inning triple.
ALEXANDRIA—Caleb Ditmarson once again did a number on the Alexandria 16s and the Willmar VFW I team made the most of three hits in a 5-2 victory on Sunday that put Post 1639 on the verge of a District 5 championship and a state tournament berth. Willmar I won its third District 5 game and plays the 16s again today at 6 p.m. in Alexandria in the tournament finals. Alexandria will have to beat Willmar I twice to claim the championship. Following the loss to Willmar, Alexandria 16 eliminated Starbuck 7-4 to get a rematch with Post 1639.
LE SUEUR—Austin VerSteeg fired a three-hitter and the Glenwood/Lowry positioned itself well for a spot in the American Legion Division II State Final Four with a 2-0 victory over Dillworth on Friday in the tournament's opening round. The criteria for obtaining one of four seeds for the semifinals includes tiebreakers based on runs scored and allowed, so a shutout victory helps even if G/L falls in today's second pool game against Pierz at 9 p.m., said head coach Bob Hendrickson.
WATERLOO—A fast start offensively and strong pitching lifted the Stingers to a 6-2 Northwoods League win over Waterloo Thursday night. The Stingers improve to 12-7 in the North Division second-half race. They remain tied with Mankato for second, a half-game back of St. Cloud. Willmar finishes its series in Waterloo today at 7:05 p.m. In the first inning on Thursday, following Quincy McAfee's lead-off walk and singles by Danny Pardo and Greg Lambert, Justin Toerner singled to put Willmar up 2-0 before the Bucks recorded an out.
MARSHALL—The Raymond Rockets took on Marshall on Tuesday in their last game before the Region 11C postseason begins this weekend and came out on top in the tune up, 6-2. The first half of the game was quiet as both starting pitchers came out battling. Raymond's Alex Lotthammer pitched the first three innings and kept Marshall hitless before being relieved by John Sawatzky. Sawatzky allowed the only two Marshall runs in the sixth but his offense helped him out to give him the win.
ATWATER—Justin Schroeder and Vance Martin handcuffed New London-Spicer and Matt Tanner was perfect at the plate and drove in three runs as Atwater advanced to the County Line League title game with a 7-0 victory on Sunday at Kingery Field. The top-seeded Chuckers will play the losers' bracket finalist at 3 p.m. Sunday in Atwater. No. 4 seed Starbuck and No. 3 seed Regal play Saturday in an elimination game. No. 2-seed New London-Spicer plays the Starbuck-Regal winner at noon Sunday in Atwater.
WILLMAR—Recent pitching struggles looked like a thing of the past Sunday as Willmar hurlers threw 13 consecutive scoreless innings in a doubleheader sweep of Rochester. Jayce Vancena threw a three-hit shutout in the second, seven-inning game of a doubleheader and the Stingers coasted to a 6-0 win. The Stingers won the first game 10-1 Vancena, who had five strikeouts without a walk, has won his last four decisions and allowed just one run in his last two starts. Danny Pardo led the charge offensively, going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
WILLMAR—The motors were revving once again at the KRA Speedway on Thursday. Weather delays and postponements from the July 7 schedule were made up Thursday in the Hobby Stock, Mod Four and Modified classes. Hornets, Midwest Modifieds and Super Stock races from July 7 will be made up on July 28. On Thursday, Nick Simar of Willmar bested Sam Lungstrom of Blomkest to take the flag in the Hobby Stock feature. Kerkhoven's Jed Muller was third.
PAYNESVILLE—The Willmar VFW I team geared up for the District 5 playoffs in a manner that has become routine the last month. Timely hitting and solid pitching helped Post 1639 down Albany 3-0 on Friday night in a game played at Paynesville's new stadium. Willmar I notched its 14th straight win and the team heads into the district tournament 21-8 overall. "We're heading in the right direction going into the playoffs," said head coach Tom DeBoer.
COON RAPIDS—he Willmar Soccer Association 17-U team will play for a Competition Level 3 state championship after defeating Eagan 6-1 on Thursday in the semifinals in Coon Rapids. Jesus Nevarez and Marcos Nino both scored three goals against Eagan. Willmar takes on Coon Rapids for the state championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Shakopee. Willmar was 8-2 in the regular season and is 4-0 so far in the playoffs. 16-U soccer falls game short