Former USM baseball great Matt Wallner hits home run in 1st game in major leagues

Former University of Southern Mississippi baseball standout Matt Wallner Wallner hits home run...
Former University of Southern Mississippi baseball standout Matt Wallner Wallner hits home run in first major-league baseball game. (Source: USM Athletics)
Published: Sep. 17, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WDAM) - Matt Wallner finished his University of Southern Mississippi baseball career as the program’s career home run leader.

Saturday at Progressive Field, the former Golden Eagle great got his Major League Baseball career off to a smashing start.

In his first game as a Minnesota Twin, Wallner provided his new team’s only run with a solo home run in the eighth inning off Cleveland starter Shane Bieber.

Bieber, a former Cy Young Award winner, allowed just four hits in his eight innings of work in Cleveland’s 5-1 win over Minnesota in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader.

One of the hits was from Wallner, who sent a moon shot to right-center for his first career hit as a big leaguer. He became just the 12th Twin to hit a home run in their first game in the majors.

The 24-year-old Wallner was called up Saturday from the Triple-A St. Paul Saints. He started in right field and hit seventh in the batting order.

Wallner had been called up to Triple-A ball on July 14. In his 50 games with the Saints, Wallner hit .247 with 31 doubles and six home runs. He hit for the cycle for the Saints on Sept. 1.

Wallner, a Minnesota native, spent three seasons with the Golden Eagles. He was named Freshman of the Year by two collegiate baseball organizations and earned All-America honors the three years he played in Hattiesburg.

Wallner became USM’s highest draft pick when he taken by the Twins in MLB’s 2019 amateur draft.

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