The Elk River Pioneers took a 16-5 drubbing from St. Michael on Friday night in a game where the winner would clinch advancement to next week’s super-regional.
The Pioneers (16-10), by virtue of starting the Section 2 playoffs with two wins, have another chance to advance on Sunday when they play whichever team survives Saturday’s sudden-death round — Albertville, Big Lake, Champlin or Anoka — starting 1 p.m. The top two teams in the eight-team tournament advance.
The team had a key setback Wednesday evening when pitcher Ben Hendrickson turned his left ankle at the end of a practice when he slipped on the tarp while running behind home plate. Henrickson had pitched a 2-1 win over Anoka last Sunday. The former Milwaukee Brewer who joined the team this year after three years out of pro ball had a 2-2 record, 2.19 ERA, and 67 strikeouts in 41 innings. In addition to his two wins, the team won three other games he started and lost another 1-0.
When Hendrickson showed up on crutches before the game, the team knew he wasn’t available.
St. Michael collected 19 hits — two doubles, 17 singles — against Josh Juntunen, Jim Brown and Lance Johnson. Juntunen took the loss, giving up 12 runs (eight earned) in 3 1/3 innings. Brown gave up two runs in 2 2/3 innings and Johnson one run in one inning.
Blake Schirmers was 3-for-5 with five RBI for St. Michael. Bobby Kneefe (three RBI) and Carl Sorenson were each 4-for-5.
For the Pioneers, Corey Kaminski was 2-for-3 with a double and three runs, and Tucker Morrell 1-for-2 plus two walks and scored three runs.
Mitch Bauer of St. Michael threw five innings, giving up five runs, and to the win. Al Frank pitched two shutout innings.