Baseball: Pioneers show some ‘thunder’ in 14-1 win over Rogers

Aaron Pipenhagen of the Pioneers caught his breath after hitting a triple that knocked in two runs. He was also winning pitcher. (Photo by Bruce Strand)


by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

There’s a half-dozen Zimmerman athletes now on the Elk River Pioneers roster and they played a big part in the team’s 14-1 rout of the Rogers Red Devils on Saturday.

One of the ex-Thunder alums, Kam Crandall, socked two doubles during an 11-run sixth inning by the Pioneers, driving home three runs.

Kam Crandall would connect for a two-run double on this swing. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

“Kenny Ott asked me to look for guys dedicated to baseball,” said Crandall, referring to the longtime Pioneers manager. “So I talked to a few guys about playing here. We don’t have our own (town) team but we’re able to come to Elk River. Everybody loves to play  baseball.”

The Pioneers have become a much  younger team this year with the newer players about evenly split between ZHS and ERHS graduates.

“What I feel good about with the new players, both the Elk River and Zimmerman guys, is that they want to practice,” said Ott. “We didn’t have a good first game. We weren’t in the swing of things. But we practiced three times last week to work on hitting.”

While the Rogers lineup struggled in the field Saturday (using several reserves because some starters were playing softball instead) the Pioneers were pretty solid.

“These guys know their positions,” said Ott. “I watched all of them play on their high school teams and I think they know how to play.”

Blake Ehley crossed the plate for the Pioneers during their 11-run sixth inning. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Aaron Pipenhagen, ERHS graduate, pitched four shutout innings (five walks, three  hits, six strikeouts) to pick up the win in the seven-inning game. He also ripped a double and triple in four at-bats, the triple knocking in two runs during the  big inning.

Matt Milless, Lance Johnson and Jake Berwyn were all 2-for-4 with a double, Corey Kaminski 2-for-5 with a triple, and Tucker Morrell 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs.

Johnson pitched the last two innings, allowing one run.

Aaron Jensen pitched the distance for shorthanded Rogers (0-5). In the 11-run inning against him the Pioneers had six or seven outs, as the Royal defense broke down including two dropped fly balls.

The Pioneers, who were drubbed by a strong St. Michael team 13-1 in their opener last Sunday, will take on Rogers again on Sunday, in Elk River, at 3 p.m.