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Zak Wallner's complete game lifts Kimball/White Lake over Flandreau in second round of amateur state tourney

Kimball/White Lake's Zak Wallner threw 138 pitches in his second consecutive complete-game effort to punch the Nationals ticket to the quarterfinals of the South Dakota Class B amateur state tournament.

Kimball/White Lake pitcher Zak Wallner delivers a pitch during a Class B amateur baseball tournament round of 16 game against Flandreau on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, at Cadwell Park.
Landon Dierks / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — It took 138 pitches to do it, but Zak Wallner fired another complete game to send Kimball/White Lake to the South Dakota Class B amateur tournament quarterfinals.

Just like he did on Sunday, Wallner tossed all nine innings Wednesday night at Cadwell Park, as the Nationals beat the Flandreau Cardinals, 2-1.

The righty only allowed four hits on the night, two of which came off the bat of Grant Hieb — a one-out single in the sixth inning and a two-out single in the eighth. The other two came in the ninth inning and produced the lone Cardinal run.

The 138-pitch performance came on the heels of his 157-pitch complete game in the first round against the Redfield Pheasants on Monday.

“It’s a lot of off-the-field work,” Wallner attributed his ability to throw so many pitches to. “It’s not like I just show up and let the arm go; there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it.”


On the other side, Jordan Gessling also went the distance for the Cardinals, throwing 122 pitches of his own and only surrendered three hits and two runs, but a rough top of the third inning proved crucial.

After retiring the first six Kimball/White Lake batters to start the game, Gessling gave up a leadoff single to Kelly O’Bryan before he hit Dylan Konechne with a pitch. Seth Kirsch then followed that up with an RBI single, and after a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners, Brian Zeman came through for the Nationals with a broken-bat, RBI groundout.

“Pitching with a lead, it really gives you a lot of confidence out there,” Wallner said. “You can kind of ease off the gas pedal and not pitch with so much stress.”

Wallner didn’t give up his first hit until Hieb, who just so happens to be Wallner’s former college coach at the University of Sioux Falls, singled up the middle. Wallner set down 18 of 19 batters between the second and eighth innings, with Hieb’s single being the only runner allowed.

However, Flandreau threatened in the eighth, stranding two runners before plating a run and sending the potential game-winning run to the plate with two outs in the ninth. Wallner did what he had been doing all night, though, and fanned the pinch hitter Dallas Schneiderman for his 10th punch out of the night to put a bow on the complete game.

With the loss, last year’s runner-up, Flandreau, bows out of the state tournament and finishes the season with a 16-8 record, while Kimball/White Lake advances to play Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against Winner/Colome, who’s coming off a walk-off win over Lake Norden on Wednesday.

Despite the short turnaround, Wallner hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of throwing again, but even if he doesn’t toe the rubber, he’s confident in his teammates.

“I’d like to be out there and give 100% of whatever I have,” Wallner said of his availability for the quarterfinal game. “But we do have other guys that can go. It’s not like I’m the only one.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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