Stingers split weekend series with Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- An early lead didn't hold up for the Willmar Stingers on Sunday as the Eau Claire Express salvaged a split of a two-game series by rallying for a 5-3 win.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - An early lead didn’t hold up for the Willmar Stingers on Sunday as the Eau Claire Express salvaged a split of a two-game series by rallying for a 5-3 win.

Eau Claire put up two runs in the first and the Stingers answered by scoring twice in the second and once in the third to take over the lead. Kyle Gilbert led off the second with his second home run of the season for the Stingers. Kyle Pruett and Lucas Tancas followed with back-to-back singles and Pruett scored later on a wild pitch.

Willmar capped its scoring an inning later when Sean Beesley scored on a passed ball. The Stingers got only one hit the remainder of the game, a Dan Motl single in the fifth, and were outhit 11-5.

The Express tied the game in the fourth on an unearned run and regained the lead in the sixth on a Tyler Jones single. Irving Lopez added insurance in the seventh with another RBI single.

Colton Boucher was tagged with the loss in relief of starter Tyler Heitmann. Eau Claire starter Brody Rodning settled down after a shaky start to collect the win in a six-inning performance.


Ryan Schlosser faced nine Stingers in the final three innings to earn the save.

The Stingers fell to 2-2 and are at Mankato today for the opening of a two-game, home-and-home series with the MoonDogs. Willmar hosts Mankato on Tuesday and then is on the road for the remainder of the week.

Late surge ignites Stingers Saturday

Willmar sent up the minimum 18 batters to the plate in the first six innings before scoring five runs over the last three innings.

Dan Motl in the first and Brian Pruett in the sixth had leadoff singles for the Stingers, but Eau Claire turned double plays on the following at bats to keep the bases clear.

Willmar erased a 1-0 Eau Claire lead in the seventh when Justin Thaxton followed David Parrett’s one-out single with a two-run home run. Motl put the Stingers up 3-1 in the eighth with a single that drove in Zach Taylor and Willmar added more insurance in the ninth when Kyle Gilbert scored on a fielder’s choice and Ky Parrott scored on a double steal.

Brady Anderson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the win for reliever Jake Sale. Tyler Hanson started for Willmar and gave up just one hit in five shutout innings of work. Dakota Belter got the final two outs in the seventh and worked a scoreless eighth for the Stingers.

Motl and Parrott both had two hits and it was Thaxton’s second homer of the season.

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