Zach Aakhus’ pro baseball career began with a trip that he figured was a long shot to lead anywhere.

In 2009, after finishing his career at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, Aakhus attended the Frontier League’s tryout camp and draft. The Windy City ThunderBolts gave him a shot, taking him with their second-round pick.

Little did anyone know Aakhus would go on to become the longest-tenured position player in franchise history. Or that he’d still be batting in the middle of the Windy City order in 2013, at age 29.

“I still remember getting on that long flight and going all the way to Washington (Pa.) on a hope and a prayer,” Aakhus said. “If you would have told me then that I’d still be here five seasons later, I would have never believed it.

“It just goes to show you never know. It’s like (pro poker player) Doyle Brunson says, ‘Just give me a chip and a chair.’ I just wanted an opportunity, and I’ve tried to make the most of it.”

Aakhus certainly has made the most of his chances.

He’s a three-time All-Star who led the league in hitting with a .330 mark in 2010 and had another huge year in ’11 when he hit .311 and drove in 64 runs.

He’s the T-Bolts’ all-time leader in career doubles with 65, and on June 5 he set a franchise record by playing in his 318th game with the team.

Aakhus has had a strong start to this season. Through Sunday, he led Windy City with a .303 average and two home runs and was second on the team with 13 RBI.

He seems to be backing up his assertion that he “still had something left in the tank” — a belief that led him to come back for another season.

“Any time you’re a professional athlete and you’re approaching 30, you have to sit back and gauge whether you want to go through what it takes to play another season,” Aakhus said. “I had to wait and see how my body felt. If you asked me in December, I wouldn’t have known. But I went through all the preparations as if I were going to play.”

What ultimately pushed the Bakersfield, Calif., native toward returning were some bad feelings from last season, when he hit just .234.

“I had a bitter taste in my mouth,” he said. “Last year I had a strong defensive season, but it was my worst offensively. At the end of the day, what brought me back is wanting to win a championship.”

The Frontier League requires players to be no older than 27, aside from one veteran exception for each team, meaning Aakhus is at least two years older than anyone else on the ThunderBolts.

“I wouldn’t say I feel like the old man, but I do feel old compared to these other guys,” he said. “I just try to take the knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the years and pass it on to the younger guys.

“I feel like I can help, whether it be how a pitcher is pitching them, or what I would do in a particular situation or even just how to prepare your body for the grind of what we do.”

For the Windy City coaching staff, having Aakhus around is invaluable.

“Guys like that who have been around are like extra coaches on the field,” T-Bolts manager Ron Biga said. “The younger players can learn a lot.”

Aakhus’ future is uncertain. He would be eligible to play one final season in the league next year if he chooses. For now, he’s looking to go out on top.

“I thought we had the team last year to win a championship, but we came up short (missing the playoffs by two games),” he said. “Now I’m back and we’re going to take our best shot at it.”