Baseball: Pioneers win Regional semifinal game before falling to Grand Ledge

The Pioneer baseball team won a District title on June 5 but apparently that wasn’t enough for a team that clearly came to play in the postseason.

Take that District title, for example.

The Pioneers used outstanding pitching to win all three games at the Saline District. They started out with a 4-1 win over the host Hornets and then pitched shutouts in back-to-back victories over Skyline (6-0) and Huron (10-0).

Their good pitching carried on into Regionals as Sean Knorr and Matt Grier combined on a four-hitter in a 3-1 win over Plymouth in a Region 8 semifinal game at Saline on Wednesday. Knorr worked the first four innings and Grier took the final three frames as the two combined for 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Plymouth scored the first run of the game as the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. But the Pioneers, batting in the seventh and facing elimination, scored three times on RBI hits by Sam Basset-Kennedy, Grier and Anthony Gibbons.

Grier was 2-for-3 with a double to lead the Pioneers, who had seven hits in the victory. Ben Stratman, Donnie Thompson, Basett-Kennedy, Julius Kass and Gibbons all had hits.

The win earned Pioneer a trip to Saturday’s Regional final against Grand Ledge in Battle Creek. This time, the Pioneers scored first and it was Grand Ledge that plated the winning runs in the seventh inning to take a 3-2 victory.

Pioneer led 2-0 after scoring a run in the top of the fifth. But Grand Ledge answered with a run in the bottom of the inning to make it 2-1.

Grand Ledge’s Aiden Alspaugh singled to drive in two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and eliminate Pioneer from the postseason. The Comets lost 6-1 to Portage Central in the quarterfinals later that afternoon.

Pioneer had five hits while Grand Ledge managed only two in the game.

Thompson allowed one hit and one run with three strikeouts and four walks in four innings for the Pioneers. Grier had two strikeouts and two walks but no hits in two innings. Knorr finished on the mound and allowed one hit with two strikeouts and a walk.

Cole Allen, Stratman, Thompson, Grier and Kass had hits for Pioneer.