Zebras work around 9 walks, beat Pioneer
Zink, Hunting, Reinartz combine on shutout
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Brayden Zink, Luke Hunting and Tanner Reinartz combined on a one-hit shutout, and Reinartz added two hits and an RBI at the plate to lead the Rochester baseball team to a 5-0 win over visiting Pioneer at Bob Copeland Field on April 14.
Sophomore designated hitter Gavin Young contributed an RBI single and later came around to score for the Zebras as part of a four-run second inning off Pioneer starter Brayden Erickson.
Rochester added another run in the third off reliever Brenton Gaumer on an RBI single from Reinartz.
The game was played in winds that were so brisk that the wind screen covering the right-center field fence was blown down.
Zink pitched the first four innings, Hunting worked the fifth and sixth, and Reinartz struck out three of the four batters he faced in his first varsity mound outing in the seventh.
Rochester prevailed despite their three pitchers not having a 1-2-3 inning and combining to walk nine. Pioneer had runners on first and second with nobody out in the fourth after Erickson and Owen Miller walked, but Gaumer grounded into a forceout, Derek Duncan fouled to third, and Andrew Helton struck out swinging.
Zink said he’s worked on slowing down and developing a routine – it usually just involves taking a deep breath after getting the ball back from the catcher – out on the mound since last season.
“My fastball mostly, then my curve ball was working pretty well,” Zink said. “I threw almost every one of them a strike. And then my knuckle ball was moving nicely in the wind. My change-up, I didn’t throw many of those, but I felt like when I threw them they were at the right time, and they were in good locations.”
They had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth after Hunting walked Caden Couch and Gavin Clem, but Caleb Sweet grounded to Reinartz at third, who touched the bag and threw to first to double up Sweet to end the inning.
Pioneer also had runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, but Hunting struck out pinch-hitter Jake Erickson looking and got Helton on a ground ball to Zink at second base.
“I thought that we did well,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “We got ourselves out of big jams. We’ve done that the past three games now. I don’t think we ever let a runner get to third base. So that was big, so I think maybe there was a little less pressure on them when we did walk a couple. … The guys just have confidence in one another.”
Pioneer was also held scoreless in a loss to Delphi three days earlier. Both Rochester and Delphi are Class 2A teams who won their respective sectionals last year.
“I wouldn’t say anything’s wrong with our hitting,” Pioneer coach Josh Hardy said. “When we faced Delphi, their pitcher pretty much threw all junk. … I’m sure his arm’s probably really tender right now. Against Rochester, partly the wind is involved, and also … the confidence right now out there. We have a lot of young guys. There’s only on our team from last year three returning starters. We have a lot of young guys that are at bat, and these are 2A schools. … We’ve got West Central Saturday, and I think we'll be fine. I think our bats will come alive.”
Rochester did not have a hit after the third inning. The only run they scored off relievers Gaumer and Jake Erickson was unearned.
But in the second inning, they parlayed two singles and three walks against Brayden Erickson into four runs. Jake Seuferer had an RBI grounder to second base, Aaron Huffman scored on a passed ball, and Young drove home Hunting with a two-out RBI single and later stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on another passed ball.
Evan Elliott reached on an error, stole second and scored on Reinartz’s hit in the third.
“We don't have a lot of players, but we’ve got a lot of depth,” Good said. “It’s kind of odd to say, but we have guys that can play a ton of different positions, and our five through nine hitters, it’s a toss-up what you’re going to get every game.”