WILLMAR - For the second straight game, Willmar's offense saved the theatrics for late. And now the Stingers are a half-game out of first place in the Northwoods League North Division.
Trailing division-leading La Crosse 4-1 through the top of the seventh inning Wednesday, the Stingers pounded the Loggers' pitchers, scoring seven runs in the bottom half en route to an 8-6 victory at Bill Taunton Stadium.
The seventh-inning surge started thanks to a La Crosse error that allowed Cal Elvers to reach home. Then with two outs, Willmar managed to put up six more runs. Nic Hernandez cracked a two-run double to score Ortiz and Tyler Reichenborn, followed by an Eli Wilson RBI single.
Then, with one swing of the bat, John Trousdale put the Stingers ahead for good with a two-run home run off of relief pitcher Hunter Davis.
La Crosse put up a pair of runs in the ninth and had the game-tying run in the batter's box before Nick Mears came on the mound and got a strikeout for the final out.
Trousdale, along with Wilson and Ortiz finished the night 2-for-5 to pace the Stingers' offense. Dylan Oliver was awarded the win after allowing just one run on two hits with two strikeouts in 2 ⅓ innings of relief. Trevor Divinski started the game and went 4 ⅔ innings with three strikeouts and three runs (two earned), five hits and two walks allowed in a no-decision.
Willmar, which is 8-2 in its last 10 games, will try to take the North Division lead today when the two teams return to Bill Taunton Stadium at 7:05 p.m. for game three of a four-game series.
Willmar 8, La Crosse 6
La Crosse 010 020 102-6 11 3
Willmar 000 100 70x-8 10 1
Hitting - La Crosse: Braiden Ward 2-4 r-2 rbi-2, Donta Williams 2-5 2b rbi-2, Harrison Freed 1-4 rbi, Armani Smith 2-4 2b r rbi, Jarron Silva 3-3 2b r-2, Bryce Blaum 1-3 2b. ... Willmar: Joey Ortiz 2-5 r, Nic Hernandez 1-3 2b r-2 rbi-2, Eli Wilson 2-5 2b r, John Trousdale 2-5 hr r rbi-2, Caleb Ricca 1-1 r, Cal Elvers 1-3 r, Shea Kramer 1-3 rbi.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - La Crosse: Eric Mock 6.2-6-3-3-1-6, Hunter Davis (L) 0-3-4-4-1-0, Chase Whitaker 1.1-1-1-1-3-2.... Willmar: Trevor Divinski 4.2-5-3-2-2-3, Dylan Oliver (W) 2.1-2-1-1-0-2, Ben Mora 1.2-4-2-2-1-2, Nick Mears (Sv) 0.1-0-0-0-0-0.