Hit batter dooms Lunkers in 12th inning
WILLMAR— A grueling pitching battle came to an unlikely end Friday night when Lunker reliever Tyler Harris hit Willmar’s Jake Stinnett with a pitch in the bottom of the twelfth inning allowing the winning run to score and give the Stingers a 2-1 win over Brainerd in Northwoods North Division play.
Seven different pitchers battled for the two teams allowing just eight hits for each team.
In the twelfth, the Lunkers intentionally walked John Haberman to load the bases following a single by Mitch Rowan and double by Jason Leblebijian with one out. Sean Dwyer lined out to the the shortstop for the second out before Stinnett was hit by Harris who had come in at the start of the inning.
Willmar jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning when lead-off batter Rob Elliott was hit by pitch, stole second, went to third on wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by John Haberman.
Jason Forget got the start for the Lunkers and pitched a strong seven innings giving up only only one run while striking out five.
However, Thomass Taylor was equally good for the Stingers going eight innings and giving up an unearned run while striking out seven.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the seventh when Brainerd’s Ryan Abrahamson scored on a two-out error by the Willmar shortstop before Christian Stringer grounded out to end inning leaving the bases loaded.
The Stingers had a chance to end the game in bottom of the ninth when Blake Shepherd led off with a double and was sacrificed to third, but was stranded there when the next two batters struck out and grounded out to send the contest into extra innings.
Jason West took the win for Willmar. He pitched two innings of relief and struck out four. Harris took the loss for Brainerd.
The Lunker fall to 12-8 with the loss, still one game back of Mankato in the North Division.
The finale of the three game series between the Lunkers and Stinger is 2:05 p.m. Saturday at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Aaron Conyers is scheduled to start for Brainerd against John Haberman for Willmar.
Brainerd 000 000 100 000 — 1 8 0
Willmar 100 000 00 001 — 2 8 2
Brainerd: Jason Forjet, Tyler Sparger (8), Chase Webb (9), Tyler Harris (12) and Jonathan Christ
Willmar: Thomas Taylor, Kurt Spomer (9), Jason West (11) and Anthony Bemboom
W: Jason West. L: Tyler Harris.
2B: Wil-Jason Leblebijian, Sean Dwyer, Blake Shepherd
SB: Wil-Rob Elliott, Brd-N.Hamilton
RBIs: Wil-John Haberman, Jake Stinnett
DP: Brd 1
LOB: Wil 13, Brd 9
Record: Brainerd 12-8, Willmar 12-10
Next: Brainerd at Willmar 2:05 p.m. Saturday