Northwoods League: Willmar Stingers pound Rochester

Stingers trounce Honkers 15-7, earning manager his first win

Willmar Stingers
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ROCHESTER — The Willmar Stingers earned their first victory of the 2022 season and the first for new manager Freddy Smith on Tuesday night.

Willmar beat Rochester 15-7 in the Northwoods League game before 478 fans at Mayo Field.

With the win, the Stingers split their two-game series to open the season against the Honkers.

Smith is in his first season as the Stingers’ coach and his first as a head coach at any level. The 2017 Cal State-Northridge graduate is an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii.

Willmar plays the Eau Claire Express at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium in the home opener. Throwing out the first pitch Wednesday will be former Minnesota Twins relief ace Eddie Guardado, who will visit with fans and sign autographs.


Tuesday, the Stingers lashed out for 19 hits. Kyle Payne led the way, going 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBI. Payne is a sophomore at Northwest Nazarene University.

Drey Dirksen also had a big game. The former Willmar High School star went 3-for-6 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored in what was his best game as a Stinger. Dirksen is a sophomore at Augustana University in South Dakota.

Elias Stevens also homered for Willmar, which got three hits from Aidan Byrne. Stevens is a junior from Maryville University. Byrne is a redshirt freshman at Minnesota State-Mankato.

Jack Habeck earned the pitching victory with 4-⅔ innings of scoreless relief pitching. The redshirt sophomore from St. Cloud State by way of Appleton, Wisconsin, struck out six and walked two, allowing two hits.

Willmar 16, Rochester 7

Willmar    121   010   452-16   19   0
Rochester      005   000   002-7   4   2
Hitting - Willmar: Brett Bateman 2-7 2b, Aidan Byrne 3-5 r rbi-2, Tim Pokornowski 2-5 r-2 hr rbi, Drey Dirksen 3-6 r-3 hr-2 rbi-4, Elias Stevens 2-3 r-3 2b hr rbi, Sam Daly 1-3 r-2 2b rbi, Nick Terrell 2-4 r-4, Kyle Payne 4-5 r-2 rbi-2  … Rochester: Nico Regino 1-3 rbi, Will Asby 1-3 rbi, Kimo Fukofuka 1-5 r hr rbi-3, Jakob Guardado 1-4 r
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Matt Wilkinson 3.1-1-5-5-1-5, Jack Habeck (W) 4.2-2-0-0-2-6, Matt Dreher 1-1-2-2-3-1 … Rochester: Noah Rooney 4-7-4-4-1-3, Jack Maruskin (L) 2.1-4-5-5-7-3, Cole Mammenga 2.1-8-7-7-3-3

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