Garcia, Stingers sink Blue Anchors
WILLMAR -- Kiko Garcia tossed his first complete game of the season and Eddie Estrada extended his hitting streak to 10 games, lifting the Willmar Stingers over the Alexandria Blue Anchors 6-3 on Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.
WILLMAR - Kiko Garcia tossed his first complete game of the season and Eddie Estrada extended his hitting streak to 10 games, lifting the Willmar Stingers over the Alexandria Blue Anchors 6-3 on Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.
The Stingers improved to 15-9 in the Northwoods League North Division second half, 2.5 games behind the St. Cloud Rox.
They lead the Rox by 1.5 games for overall season record, and if they can hold that lead will have home-field advantage in the first two playoff elimination games.
Garcia’s gem came with the benefit of only one strikeout and despite five errors by the Stingers, but the Anchors managed just six hits and one walk and stranded five runners.
“You don’t win a lot of games with five errors,” Stingers’ manager Drew Saberhagen said. “He did a really good job not worrying about what was going on behind him.”
Garcia, who set down the Anchors in order five times, pitched at least eight innings for the third time in four starts. He lowered his ERA to 2.33 and improved to 3-0 on the season.
“He’s been our workhorse,” Saberhagen said. “He got a lot of early contact - that’s a big thing in this league where you can pitch to contact and stay in games longer. He did a good job getting ground balls.”
The Stingers’ offense provided plenty of support, with production up and down the lineup.
Willmar collected nine hits from seven different players and RBIs from four different players.
“It’s someone new every night,” Saberhagen said. “This is a good time to be swinging the bats and getting the average up.”
The Stingers gained a game on the Rox in the standings, who lost 4-3 in 16 innings on Tuesday to the Thunder Bay Border Cats.
Trailing 2-1 after Josh Merrigan’s two-run single, the Stingers took the lead for good in the third when Storm Wilson singled in a run and came around to score on an Estrada single and a passed ball.
Estrada singled twice to push his hitting streak to 10 games, halfway to tying Corben Green’s team record of 20 set in 2012.
Saberhagen said Estrada has been putting up “video game numbers.”
The Litchfield native and Gophers commit has had multiple hits in nine of the 10 games in the streak and raised his average from .246 to .373.
Justin Thaxton also drove in a run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, and Troy Dixon drove in Estrada with an infield single in the eighth.
Willmar plays two more against Alexandria today, a noon game in Alexandria and a 7:05 p.m. game at Bill Taunton Stadium.