State Baseball: Aitkin gets third in Class 2A

Aitkin finishes third in Class 3A state tournament Wednesday, June 16

Aitkin Gobbler Jake Ince forces out a Plainview-Elgin-Millville player at second base during the third place Class 2A baseball state tournament game at Putz Field in St. Cloud. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

ST. CLOUD — After a crushing defeat in the semifinals, Aitkin bounced back with a 8-4 win over Plainview-Elgin-Millville to take home third place in the Class 2A state tournament Wednesday, June 16, at Putz Field.

“We felt going into it that we were one of the best here and we finished top three,” Aitkin’s head coach Jeremy Janzen said. “You get a little feeling of snake bite because you want to play for the championship, but we bounced back and won a nice third place game.”

Aitkin used a two-run first inning and a three-run second inning to take control of the third-place game 5-1.

The Gobblers opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles and after two groundouts Aitkin scored its first run on an Owen Miller ground ball to shortstop.


Landon Janzen ripped a single up the middle to give Aitkin the lead 2-1 after the first inning.

Hunter Nissen ripped a double to score two runs in the second inning and then scored himself on a Jake Ince double to make it 5-1.

“I know how good our team is,” Ince said. “I wish we could’ve come out like this in the first game. As soon as we started putting up numbers, we knew it was going to happen and we just all believed in each other.

Aitkin Baseball at State Tournament Aitkin Gobbler baseball at State Tournament

“Obviously, we were both coming off a loss so whoever was going to strike first was going to get that upper hand.”

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Carson Kullhem started for Aitkin and pitched 3.2 innings and allowed four runs and struck out one. He hit three batters and walked two others.

Kullhem got in a jam in the top of the fourth when PEM scored three runs. With the bases loaded and two outs in a 5-3 game Joey Simonson came on in relief and threw a wild pitch. PEM scored its third run of the inning on the wild pitch and tried to send another runner home to tie the game, but was called out.


Aitkin got two back in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it 7-4.

Ince ripped his second double of the game and scored on a wild pitch. Owen Miller walked after Ince, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Janzen got his second RBI-single of the game.

Ince finished the state tournament with four hits — all doubles.

“There’s a righty before me that bats and most pitchers at the high school level are not good enough to switch to outside corner,” Ince said. “So I look for an inside fastball and I usually just take it where it’s pitched.”

Simonson pitched a clean 3.1 innings and earned the win. He allowed no hits and struck out four while walking two.

The first three in Aitkin’s lineup Caiden Kjelstrom, Nissen and Ince all tallied two hits and the fifth-hitter Janzen tallied three. As a team, the Gobblers finished with 12 hits.

The win was Aitkin’s 23rd of the season and the team finished with a 23-6 record.


PEM 4 4 2
Aitkin 8 12 1
WP: Joey Simonson. LP: Jameson Brinkman. 2B: Aitkin-Jake Ince (2), Hunter Nissen PEM-Baden Fenton.

RELATED: State Baseball: W-DC’s bats quiet in state quarterfinals

Aitkin 4, Belle Plaine 2

ST. CLOUD — Aitkin brought the winning run to the plate and had the tying run at second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t bring them home in its 4-2 loss to Belle Plaine in the Class 2A state semifinals Wednesday, June 16, at Putz Field.

Caiden Kjelstrom struck out looking to end the game. Logan Olson ripped an RBI-single and represented the tying run for the Gobblers in the bottom of the seventh.

“We gave ourselves a chance and battled to the end,” Jeremy Janzen said. “We played until the last out and that’s where we were. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Belle Plaine scored three runs in the top of the fifth. A Joey Burgemeister double scored two Tigers to have them regain the lead 3-1. Luke Luskey followed Burgemeister with an RBI-triple to make it 4-1.

“We felt going into it that we were one of the best here and we finished top three. You get a little feeling of snake bite because you want to play for the championship, but we bounced back and won a nice third place game”

— Aitkin’s head coach Jeremy Janzen

The Tigers scored first in the top of the fourth when a Jackson Kruger double scored Jake Brandenburg, who led off the inning with a walk.


Belle Plaine’s starter Derek Hoffman pitched a complete game and allowed just the two runs on four hits. He struck out six and walked two to get the win.

Jesse Goettig started for the Gobblers and lasted 4.1 innings. He was responsible for all four Tiger runs and struck out two in the loss.

Three of Aitkin’s four hits were doubles. Jake Ince ripped a first inning double and Owen Miller also had a double. Joey Simonson tallied Aitkin’s third double and it was in the seventh inning.

“I think we took too many pitches that were strikes,” Ince said of the semifinal game. “We didn’t swing the bat enough, but the times we did they just made plays.”

Belle Plaine 4 6 1
Aitkin 2 4 2
WP: Derek Hoffman. LP: Jesse Goettig. 2B: Aitkin-Jake Ince, Owen Miller, Joey Simonson BP-Joey Burgemeister (2), Jackson Kruger. 3B: BP-Luke Luskey.

Aitkin gets third


Key: Aitkin rips 12 hits in the third-place game to beat Plainview-Elgin-Millville

Overall: Ait 23-6

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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