Northwoods League: Stingers are the best in the West
Willmar wins the Great Plains West Division title by beating the St. Cloud Rox 3-2, earning the Stingers a sweep of the best-of-3 series. Willmar is host to the Duluth Huskies on Tuesday in a one-game playoff for the overall Great Plains title.
ST. CLOUD — The Stingers responded to adversity quickly against St. Cloud, pulling off another comeback in their 3-2 win and sweep of the Rox on Monday evening to advance to the Great Plains Division championship game.
Outside of his wild pitch that the Rox capitalized on, Habeck pitched well on his college turf to help fuel Willmar to victory.
Habeck, a redshirt sophomore at St. Cloud State University, pitched six innings and caused the Rox frustration as long as he was on the mound. He struck out six batters and walked three, allowing three hits and one run.
"It's a lot of fun playing here and a comfortable place for me to be," Habeck said of Joe Faber Field. "Some roommates and teammates at SCSU came, so being able to come out on top makes it feel even better."
Willmar advances to play Duluth on Tuesday at Bill Taunton Stadium in a one-game playoff to represent the Great Plains for the overall Northwoods league title.
Though Habeck was tough, it wasn’t all pretty for the Stingers on the mound. Dylan Matela walked the first three batters he faced on 12 pitches in the eighth inning and Joe Ilhi replaced him. Ilhi got out three consecutive batters, but O’Neill Burgos hit a sacrifice fly to score John Nett to cut Willmar’s lead to 3-2.
After St. Cloud’s Jackson Hauge scored in the fifth inning, Willmar quickly responded with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead.
Nick Terrell earned an RBI after taking a walk with the bases loaded to score Kyle Payne before Jordan Sagedahl reached home on a wild pitch by Rox pitcher Nick Hyde.
"Nick Terrell is the most improved player on our team. He played another incredible shortstop tonight," Stingers field manager Freddy Smith said. "He didn't let the moment get too big, like a lot of our guys."
With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, Stingers catcher Jake Entrekin hit a sacrifice fly to score Scott Anderson and extend Willmar’s lead to 3-1.
A freshman at Point Loma Nazarene University, Entrekin’s RBI scored the game-winning and series-clinching run for the Stingers.
Ilhi struck out one batter in his relief effort, allowing zero hits and no walks, as the Stingers pitchers allowed the Rox three hits in the game.
"That was a huge performance by Joe, especially coming in with bases loaded and no outs," Habeck said.
In the Great Plains East Division playoffs, Duluth beat Eau Claire 4-3 to sweep the best-of-three series.
The Stingers went 5-3 against the Huskies in the regular season, most recently sweeping Duluth in their series finale.
"Duluth is a good team. They are very physical, offensively, and have good starting pitching," Smith said. "It's a good challenge, being able to compete for the Great Plains championship."
Willmar 3, St. Cloud 2
Willmar 000 002 100-3 7 0
St. Cloud 000 010 010-2 3 1
Hitting - Willmar: Dalton Pearson 1-5, Brett Bateman 1-4 bb, Graysen Tarlow 1-4 hbp, Drey Dirksen 2-5 2b, Scott Anderson 1-3 r bb hbp, Kyle Payne 0-4 r bb sb, Jordan Sagedahl 0-3 r bb hbp, Jake Entrekin 1-4 rbi sf, Nick Terrell 0-2 rbi bb-2 … St. Cloud: John Nett 1-4 r bb sb-2, Trevor Austin 1-3 2b bb, Ike Mezzenga 0-2 bb-2, Charlie Condon 0-3 bb, O’Neill Burgos 0-2 rbi bb sf, Jackson Hauge 1-4 r 2b, Jack Steil 0-3 hbp, Will Worthington 0-3 sac, Gustavo Nava 0-2 hbp
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Jack Habeck (W) 6-3-1-1-3-6, Dylan Matela 1-0-0-0-3-0, Joe Ilhi (Sv) 2-0-0-0-0-1 … St. Cloud: Hunter Day (L) 5.1-5-2-2-2-8, Nick Hyde 0.2-0-0-0-2-1, Janzen Keisel 0.2-1-1-1-2-1, Chase Grillo 2.1-1-0-0-0-4