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Northwoods League: Willmar Stingers fall short in home opener, 12-10

The Eau Claire Express scored three runs in the ninth inning en route to the win before 1,406 fans at Bill Taunton Stadium

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Sam Daly high fives his Willmar Stingers teammates after scoring a run against the Eau Claire Express during their home opener in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — The Willmar Stingers battled back from an eight-run deficit , but it wasn't enough.
A 10-9 lead heading into the ninth inning against Eau Claire didn't hold as the Express scored three runs in the final frame to earn a 12-10 victory Wednesday evening before 1,406 fans at Bill Taunton Stadium.

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Brett Bateman slides into third base uncontested as the Willmar Stingers played host to the Eau Claire Express during the team's home opener in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

The Express (2-1) earned their three runs in the final frame from a bases loaded walk, a wild pitch, and an RBI single from Charlie Szykowny to overcome the 10-9 deficit against the Stingers (1-2).

With bases loaded and no outs for the Stingers' Brett Bateman, a wild pitch during his at-bat scored Nick Terrell to knot the game at 9-9 in the eighth inning.

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Members of the Willmar Stingers watch a pop fly soar through the air from an Eau Claire Express batter during a game in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Bateman then earned a walk and a Tim Pokornowski single later brought home Kyle Payne to give the Stingers their first lead of the game since the third inning at 10-9.

The Stingers continued to battle their way back in the eighth inning to bring home Elias Stevens to cut the gap to 9-8.

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Stingers pitcher Tucker Novotny throws a pitch against the Eau Claire Express during the team's home opener in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

With the game progressing into the sixth inning, the teams combined for nine runs in the frame as Willmar started to claw their way back into the game scoring six of those runs to cut Eau Claire's lead to 9-7.

As Eau Claire's starting pitcher Ricky Apodaca exited the game after five innings pitched and one earned run against, the Stingers brought their two hits in the column up to seven in the sixth inning against Adam Stanton.

Terrell and Aidan Byrne highlighted the six-run inning for Willmar as the duo each recorded two RBI's on singles that reached right field.

After struggling to figure out Willmar starting pitcher Tucker Novotny, the Express scored a whopping six runs in the fourth inning, including two unearned runs.

Joshua Robinson highlighted the six-run fourth inning by Eau Claire as he hit a two-run double.

Novotny started off strong through the first three innings of play. He held the Express' first nine batters to zero hits and recorded two strikeouts.

Willmar opened up the scoring in the second inning as Terrell brought home Sam Daly on a sacrifice fly.

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Willmar Stingers Will Roguske, at right, and Brett Bateman fist bump at the end of an inning while playing host to the Eau Claire Express in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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Eau Claire 12, Willmar 10

Eau Claire    000   603   003-12   10   3
Willmar         010   006   120-10   14   1
Hitting - Eau Claire: Clay Conn 2-5 r rbi-2 bb, Cole Conn 1-6 rbi, Charlie Czykowny 1-5 r rbi-2 sf, Sam Kuchinski 1-3 r rbi bb-2 hbp, Sam Hunt 1-4 r rbi bb, Ben Taxdahl 0-4 r rib hbp, Tanner Marsh 2-4 r-2 rbi-2, Kevin Tuttle 1-3 r-3 rbi bb, Joshua Robinson 1-3 r-2 2b rbi-2 bb-2  … Willmar: Aidan Byrne 2-5 rbi-2, Brett Bateman 1-4 r bb, Elais Stevens 2-r 4-2 hbp, Drey Dirksen 1-4 r 2b rbi bb, Tim Pokornowski 3-5 r rbi-2, Sam Daly 1-4 r-2, Nick Terrell 2-4 r-2 rbi-3, Kyle Payne 2-4 r
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Eau Claire: Ricky Apodaca 5-2-1-1-0-3, Adam Stanton 1-6-6-5-1-1, Ethan Louthan 1-5-3-3-2-1, Isaiah Katz (W, 1-0) 2-1-0-0-0-5 … Willmar: Tucker Novotony 4-3-6-4-1-1-5, Will Roguske 2-4-3-3-2-0, Andrew Baumgart 1.2-2-0-0-00-0, Logan Samuels (L, 0-1) 0.2-0-3-3-5-1, Mitch Gutnecht 0.2-1-0-0-0-1

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Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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