Coyotes fall in twinbill to Gladstone

REED CITY — The Reed City baseball team fell victim to the long ball on Friday night as the visiting Gladstone Braves hit four home runs in the first game to set the tone for a 12-2 victory in the opener and a 9-0 win in the nightcap. 

The Coyotes fall to 0-4 to start the season under new head coach Marty Shaffer as they struggle to find any offense, putting up just seven runs so far this year with five coming in one game against Pine River. 

“Our biggest thing is that we can’t get down on ourselves and we just have to start hitting the ball, that’s the problem,” Shaffer said. “If we can hit the ball we’ll be OK. We’re going to play sound defense, we have decent pitching but we just have to figure out a way to put some runs on the board.”

The Coyotes fell 12-2 in the first game with Austin Hansen taking the loss after four innings of work and four strikeouts, as he gave up two home runs for the Braves. 

The Coyotes survived two full innings before Gladstone’s Tommy Bailey went yard with a man on third to go up 2-0 on the home team. The next batter blasted another home run to centerfield to push the lead to 3-0, a score that would stand until the fifth inning when Bailey hit his second home run of the night with a grand slam to dead-center to push the lead out to 7-0. 

“We didn’t play anything bad really defensively,” Shaffer said. “We’re playing here on the short field, we aren’t playing at our usual field which is at Rocket. They hit four home runs and none of them would’ve been out of the park at the other field. We didn’t make any mental errors, they just hit the ball over the fence and had a couple guys on.” 

Hansen added a two-run home run to help his cause, but it wasn’t enough as the Braves piled on five more runs, including another two-run shot, to take a 12-2 win in the opening game. 

Eric Grannis had a double and drew two walks while Hansen hit his home run to fuel the majority of Reed City’s offense in the first game. 

Ray Phenix started the second game on the mound for the Coyotes and tallied five strikeouts through three innings of work, but the Gladstone bats warmed up, handing Phenix a loss. 

Through two innings Phenix kept the Braves off the board, but in the top of the third the visiting bats got rolling again with a triple followed by two doubles to take an early 4-0 lead. Gladstone would add one more before the end of the third to take a 5-0 advantage as the sun started to go down. 

Grannis came in to pitch for the Coyotes, but Gladstone batters adjusted to the new pitcher as they put up four more runs in the fourth inning, including two runs that came in as the Coyotes misplayed a routine fly ball in the infield. 

The Coyotes mustered one hit in the bottom of the fourth, but weren’t able to move the runner, ending the game at 9-0 due to darkness. 

Kyle Wright picked up a hard-hit single in the second game, but was one of the few bright spots for the Coyote offense in the nightcap.

“The first game wasn’t a bad game they just hit the ball and got it over the fence,” Shaffer said. “The second game was a little different. We just kind of broke down and we ended up kind of shooting ourselves in the foot and letting them get into it and we couldn’t hit.

“Our struggle right now is just seeing some live pitches, we haven’t been outside that much,” he continued. “We just have to figure out how to hit some pitching. That’s the biggest thing right now.”