Coyotes baseball team claims district championship, faces Hornets

REED CITY — It was a sweet celebration for the Reed City baseball team Saturday at Evart in the Division 3 districts.

The 5-2 semifinal win over Pine River and 8-4 title game win over Lake City gave the Coyotes their first district title since 2000.

Reed City takes a 19-13 record to the Division 3 regionals at Lakeview on Saturday.

“Hopefully it shows that we’ll accomplish a lot more,” said first-year coach Scott Shankel. “The kids are working hard and believing in what we’re doing.”

The Coyotes have won seven straight.

“We’re playing great baseball right now,” Shankel said. “Before that, we lost three games at the Cadillac tournament. They decided they didn’t want to end their season that way.”

At Lakeview, the Coyotes will open at 10 a.m. against a Central Montcalm team it defeated twice during the regular season.

“It’s tough to beat a team three times, but whoever won that district, we have already played twice,” Shankel said. “They seem to hit the ball decent. At the same time, I’d rather control what we do. I want us to play mistake free baseball and for our pitchers to throw strikes.”

Muskegon Oakridge and Mason County Central are in the other bracket.

“I think our shot is as good as anyone else’s,” Shankel said.

Against Pine River, Stieg went seven innings, allowing only four hits and striking out nine. Josh Justin had two hits and an RBI. Dylan Kichak, Alex Repo and Stieg all had hits and an RBI.

In the second game, Codie Strach went five innings, allowing five hits and four runs and fanning six batters, Stieg went the final two innings for the save. Repo had two hits and scored two runs while Glen Ryder had two hits and two RBIs against Lake City. Kichak and Strach both had hits.

“Our pitching was good, our defense was solid and we didn’t make many errors and we hit the ball really well,” Justin said.

“I was hitting my spots,” Stieg said. “The last few games, I’ve been pitching the best performances I’ve had. I know I have a defense behind me to help me out.”

If the Coyotes win the regionals, they’ll play next Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

“It sounds like we have a good chance of winning,” Stieg said. “Central Montcalm is beatable. Against the other side of the bracket, I think it’s anyone’s game. We need to get the bat on the ball, putting it somewhere.”

Reed City beat Manton 11-0 in a predistrict game at Evart in five innings on June 1. The Coyotes had a nine-run fourth inning featuring a pair of RBI doubles from Kichak and a bases-clearing triple by Justin.

Stieg struck out 11 batters and allowed one hit.