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NORTHWOODS LEAGUE Willmar stings Lunkers

The Brainerd Lunkers opened a three-game homestand against the Willmar Stingers by losing 5-3 in a Northwoods League North Division game Monday night at Mills Field.

After going hitless in the first two innings, Brainerd's bats came alive in the third with one out when Matt Hillsinger, Tommy Reyesand Tyler Wampler rattled off three consecutive singles. Wampler recorded the RBI with his hit, scoring Hillsinger from third, who had put himself in that postion by stealing second earlier. The third ended with the Lunkers up 1-0.

Hillsinger finished the night 2-4 with two runs scored and Wampler finished 2-5 for the Lunkers.

Wilmar responded in the  fourth when  Pat Stover hit a ground ball down the third-base line that was picked up by Brainerd's Paul Toboni, who had to hurry and made an errant throw to first that saw Stover advance to third. Stover then scored an unearned run on a passed ball that Lunker catcher Jon Crist could not locate to tie the game 1-1.

Willmar would sting the Lunkers again in the fifth, scoring again an earned run this time, making the game 2-1 in favor of the Stingers. 

Casey Roche replaced Brainerd starting pitcher Kye Winter in the the seventh. Roche hit the first batter he faced and gave up a few singles along with a passed ball before settling down in the inning after giving up one run. Roche made two nice defensive plays off the mound, one of which stopped a run from scoring, leaving the Lunkers down 3-1 midway through the seventh.

Winter took the loss for Brainerd, pitching six innings, allowing eight hits, surrendering two runs, one earned and struck out six. Winter is now 3-3 in seven games started for the Lunkers.

Brainerd’s half of the eighth opened with Hillsinger reaching first on a shallow shot to left. Reyes then tagged one to right but Willmar right fielder Sean Dwyer made a diving catch to snag the hard hit ball. Wampler then hit a long single to right center that got through, forcing a pitching change for Willmar, as Thomas Taylor came in relief of for starter Dan Russell. Vince Bruno then hit a line drive single , scoring Hillsinger while advancing Wampler to third. Nick Hamilton struck out for out, bringing up Dan Olinger to plate as the tying run.  

More excitment came when Bruno was almost picked off and caught in a rundown, evetnually making it to second safely. Willmar then intentionally walked Olinger to load the bases for Toboni . The excitement ended there as Toboni struck out swining ending the  eighth with the score 3-2.

“We had opportunity’s with guys on the base, we loaded the bases in the eighth, and they made some good defensive plays like the diving catch down the right field line on Tommy’s ball,” said  Manager Ryan Levendoski. “Beyond that we just continue to shoot ourselves in the foot a little defensively, allowing lead off batters to get on base and we aren’t good enough offensively to make up for that.”

In the ninth Mitch Delfino hit a two-out double for Wilmar ,scoring Ryan Dettman from third putting the Stingers out in front for good. They added one more in the ninth.

The Lunkers got their chance in the ninth as well scoring one more .

The loss is the eighth in 11 games for Brainerd whichwill play nine more games in the next 11 days, and is now 7-13 in the Northwoods League at the bottom of the North Division.

Willmar 000 110 102-5 13 1

Brainerd 001 000 011—3 10 3

Willmar: Dan Russell, Thomas Taylor (7), and Anthony Benboom

Brainerd: Kye Winter, Casey Roche (7), Tyler Harris (8), and Jon Crist

W: Russell. L: Winter . Sv: Taylor .

2B: W-Eduardo Gonzalez, Mitch Delfino; Brd-Jon Crist

SB: W- Mitch Rowan, Eduardo Gonzales, Chris Woolley; Brd- Vince Bruno,  Matt Hillsinger

SF: Brd-Reyes

RBIs:W-Gonzales, Delfino, John Haberman; Brd-Tyler Wampler, Bruno, Tommy Reyes

DP:  Brd  2

LOB: W 12, Brd 7 

T: 2:43

A: 543

Sunday’s game

Lunkers 5, Willmar 3

WILLMAR — A strong outing by Charlie Henderson and a couple of timely runs late in the game helped the Lunkers end a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Willmar Stingers Sunday night at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Lunkers, who had given up five unearned runs Saturday, scored unearned runs of their own in the seventh and eighth. In the seventh, a Casey Roche double brought home Vince Bruno, who had taken second base after an error.

In the eighth, a routine throw from Willmar pitcher Jack Shannon was dropped by Stingers first baseman Eduardo Gonzalez. The ball got away and Paul Toboni scored the fifth Lunkers run of the game.

Toboni had a two-run single in the third that put the Lunkers ahead 3-2.

Henderson picked up his second win of the season, going 6.2 innings, giving up one earned run and striking out two.

In the ninth, Brainerd’s Ray Black came in and forced Jason Leblebijian into a  1-6-3 double play to end the game. Black recorded his second save of the season.

Brainerd 003 000 110 — 5 7 2

Willmar  201 000 000 — 3 10 3

Brainerd: Charlie Henderson, Chase Webb (7), Ray Black (9) and Wade Wass. 

Willmar: Tanner Banks, John Haberman (4), Jack Shannon (7), Kurt Spomer (9) and Jarid Scarafiotti.

W: Henderson (2-1). L: Shannon (0-2). Sv: Black (2).

2B: Casey Roche (B), Mitch Delfino (W). 

HR: Eduardo Gonzalez (W). 

RBIs: Roche 2, Paul Toboni (B) 2, Gonzalez 1. 

SF: Roche. 

S: Wass. 

SB: Dan Olinger (B), Toboni, Jason Leblebijian (W). 

LOB: Brainerd 9, Willmar 8. 

DP: Brd 1.

T: 2:26.

A: 877

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.