Bats lead Reed City to doubleheader sweep

REED CITY — The magic number for the Reed City Coyotes was 11 Tuesday in a pair of non-league baseball victories over Evart to open the regular season.

The Coyotes prevailed 11-1 and 11-3 in a pair of five-inning games.

“I thought we hit the ball really well today,” said Reed City coach Scott Shankel. “We had a few mental mistakes on the bases early but we got better with that. Pitching was solid all day long.”

Cody Strach was the winning pitcher in the first game, striking out eight, walking three and allowing one hit.

At the plate, Ricky Droke was 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Dillon Kichak was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Strach was 2-for-4 with a home run. Mike Barton, Eric Grannis, Glenn Ryder and Trevor Mund had one hit apiece.

In the second game, Mund had a hit, sacrifice and RBI. Kichak and Strach both had one hit and three RBIs. Grannis delivered two hits and an RBI. Barton and Droke also had hits while Ryan Willis had a hit and RBI.

Willis was the winning pitcher in relief of Kichak, who allowed all three Evart runs and two hits. He struck out six. Willis had two walks and two strikeouts.

“I was amazing, we did really good,” Droke said. “Three weeks of 80 degree weather, it helped us getting outside.”

Jeff Race was the losing pitcher in the first game for Evart, allowing two earned runs and one walk while fanning two.

Devon VanOrder had one hit in the first game for Evart. In the second game, Jarek VanOrder had a hit and RBI. Matt Mishler delivered a hit and scored a run.

“We need to put the bat on the ball,” said Evart coach George Sims, whose team fell to 1-2. “We had too many strikeouts, too many strikeouts looking. Defensively, there wasn’t a lot of communication.”

Sims called Strach the best “lefthander we’ll face all year. It will give us a sample of what to see for the rest of the year.”

“We’ve been practicing hitting all winter, non-stop, Droke said. “The hitting really did us good.”

“We’ve been outside every day except for last Friday when it rained,” Shankel said, pointing to the warm weather that has dominated the preseason. “Even though it was chillier today, the kids were itching to play. They were getting tired of practice.

Reed City is at Ludington on April 10 and at Big Rapids on April 13.

“On fielding, we have a few issues to work out but it’s early in the year,” Shankel said. “Pitching, I was very happy with all three of my pitchers on the mound today. They threw strikes.”

Evart is home April 12 with Houghton Lake.