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Kimball/White Lake holds off Redfield behind Zak Wallner's 10 strikeouts

The Kimball/White Lake Nationals hold off the Redfield Pheasants 9-4 in the second round of the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park.

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Kimball/White Lake's Brian Zeman throws to first to complete the out during a game in the second round of the Class B State Amateur baseball tournament on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021 at Cadwell Park. (Branden Hull / Mitchell Republic)

The Kimball/White Lake Nationals fended off the Redfield Pheasants 9-4 in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament on Monday at Cadwell Park. The Nationals advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in team history.

The Nationals were led by pitcher Zak Wallner. He pitched all nine innings, struck out 10 batters and allowed one earned run on 13 hits.

In the bottom of the third, the Nationals felt the pressure early from Redfield. Jared Kuehn hit a triple to center field and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Mitch Babcock. After a pair of base hits and an error by Kimball/White Lake's Devin DeBoer, Redfield had the bases loaded with one out and what seemed to be all the momentum. Wallner weathered the storm, striking out Levi Logan and making the 1-3 play off a ground out by Keith Jandel.

"The biggest inning of the game was the bottom of the third," Kimball/White Lake manager Wesley Kroupa said. "They had bases loaded, with one out and Zak worked his way out of it. I think that was a huge momentum swing because it looked like we were going to be down a couple runs."

Kroupa said the team went into the fourth inning feeling free and that helped them string some hits together. Kroupa also said the team had discussions in the dugout and they could tell what the game plan pitcher Justin Link had against them.

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"We could see his curveball, his fast ball and we also knew this guy is not walking anyone." Kroupa said. "He's pounding the zone and he's coming with strikes a high-percentage of the time and that helped us a lot."

Kimball/White Lake scored six runs in the top of the fourth, while Redfield committed two errors. Link was pulled in the third inning, ending his night with two strikeouts, but allowed six hits and six runs.

This sequence completely swung the momentum in favor of the Nationals and partially deflated the Pheasants.

"You could tell they were a little bit deflated," Redfield manager Jim Miller said. "With that being said, we knew we could score some runs and we knew the game was not over."

Redfield slowly climbed its way back into the game, cutting the deficit to two heading into the eighth inning.

At the top of the ninth, Wallner singled to right field and managed to make his way home on an infield error by Redfield. Dylanger Pierson's two-run homer sealed the ball game.

"If you look at this game as a whole, what really hurt us was the four errors." Miller said. "We take away those four errors and I'm not sure we give up more than two runs in this game. That's the frustrating part about this, we hurt ourselves. Nothing against Kimball/White Lake, but we’re a better team than that."

Despite being outscored by five runs, Redfield out-hit Kimball/White Lake 13-11 and both teams committed four errors. Barret Wren, Logan and Jandel all went 3 of 5 at the plate for the Pheasants. Kuehn scored two runs for the team.

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For Kimball/White Lake, Pierson finished 2 of 5 and drove in two runs. Wallner chipped in offensively going 2 of 4 at the plate and scored two runs of his own. Eathen Gaulke scored two runs as well while Kroupa went 2 of 2 at the plate.

Kimball/White Lake will play Winner-Colome winner at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in the state quarterfinals.

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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