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Big bats, strong pitching carry Winner/Colome back to Class B semifinals for fourth year in a row

The Pheasants will face the Dell Rapids Mudcats in a rematch of the 2021 Class B semifinal round

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Winner/Colome pitcher Connor Hopkins winds up before delivering a pitch during a Class B state amateur baseball tournament quarterfinal against Kimball/White Lake on Friday, August 12, 2022, at Cadwell Park.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL -- Guess who’s back in the Class B state amateur baseball semifinals?

For the fourth year in a row, Winner/Colome has clinched a spot in South Dakota’s town team baseball final four, and for a second straight year, it came at Kimball/White Lake’s expense in the quarterfinals. This time is a 12-2, seven-inning romp for the Pheasants, who outhit KWL 14-3 and benefitted from six Nationals errors.

It sets up a semifinal rematch with the Dell Rapids Mudcats, who won the 2021 meeting by a score of 6-0 and then proceeded to claim the Class B state title. The Pheasants and Mudcats are opposite the other semifinal -- Lennox and Garretson -- with the winners meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday for the championship.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Winner/Colome’s Dillon Lambley said. “We want to be playing on that second weekend and we’ve obviously got the experience of being here. We feel like we’re playing pretty good ball and we’re excited about our chances.”

Derek Graesser had three hits and three runs scored for Winner/Colome, with Lambley picking up three hits and two RBIs. Austin Richey and Luke Bamberg each had two hits and two RBIs. All of the offense was more than enough for starting pitcher Connor Hopkins, who mowed down 12 batters -- including eight of the first 10 he faced -- and allowed just three hits in seven innings of work.

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Kimball/White Lake first baseman Zak Wallner stretches to receive a throw to first base in an attempt to beat out Winner/Colome's Dillon Lambley (50) as Pierce Nelson (foreground) watches the action while rounding third base during a Class B state amateur baseball tournament quarterfinal on Friday, August 12, 2022, at Cadwell Park.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic

It was a case of Winner/Colome getting its strong offense back in form, bouncing back from a slower offensive showing than in Wednesday’s 4-3 second-round comeback against Lake Norden, in which the Pheasants had to pull out the victory in the game’s final inning.

“Our focus was better tonight,” Winner/Colome player/manager Austin Richey said. “Early in the game, you could see it, we hit a lot of balls hard that were outs and we knew we’d break through. If you put pressure on them, barrel up some pitches and get on base, that’s where our big innings come from.”

KWL could not muster much on offense, with only three hits for the game, one each from Kelly O’Bryan, Zak Wallner and Brian Zeman, with Wallner and Zeman driving in runs in the fourth inning. That was when KWL scored twice and cut Winner/Colome’s lead to 3-2, but the bases were left loaded, signaling the last best offensive chance of the night for the Nationals.

From there, Winner/Colome only added to the lead, with a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Leading 6-2, the Pheasants blew the game open for good with a six-run seventh inning, invoking the 10-run rule with seven hits and 11 batters coming to the plate.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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