Erickson strikes out 16 to take down Reed City

LEROY — Pine River pitcher Lincoln Erickson was not overly happy with his pitching performance Tuesday. But it was enough to get the job done in a 6-3 victory over Reed City in Division 3 predistrict baseball action.

The Bucks, who now play Lake City Saturday at a home in the districts, exploded for four runs in the opening inning and were able to keep the Coyotes at bay the rest of the way.

Erickson struck out 16 batters, walked six and gave up two hits in the win. Pine River’s Devin Ruppert had two hits with a sacrifice and RBI. Skyler Nelson had a single and RBI. Erickson and Derrick Waldfogel also had RBIs.

Reed City defeated Erickson in the district semifinals last season.

“I think he had a little more velocity this year,” said Reed City coach Scott Shankel. “They’re a good team. They got their bat on the ball. We did help them out with two or three errors the first inning. When you give them four runs the first inning, that’s not the best thing.”

Erickson’s single-game season high for strikeouts is 17.

“Towards the end I got sloppy,” he said. “I was average. It was good enough to get the win.”

Codie Strach took the loss for the Coyotes, the defending district champs, who ended their season at 15-19.

“I thought Codie threw a really good game for us,” Shankel said.

Ruppert had an RBI single in the bottom of the first to start the rally. An error and wild pitch scored two more runs and Grant Gugle squeezed one home on a wild pitch.

Skyler Nelson’s RBI groundout gave the Bucks a 5-0 lead in the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Ruppert, from his catching position, threw out Reed City baserunner Sean Woodside at third base to keep the Coyotes off the scoreboard.

But in the sixth, Reed City struck for three runs with an RBI bounceout by Glen Ryder and two-run single by Rick Droke.

In the bottom of the sixth, Garrett Long laid down a suicide squeeze bunt and a run scored on a wild throw at the plate.

“We did a good job of executing the squeeze and getting the bunts down,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “(Tuesday) we let too many runners on.”

Strach struck out 10 batters, gave up a walk and five hits and allowed three earned runs. Reed City’s two hits were by Droke and Eric Grannis.

Earlier in the season, Pine River beat Reed City 8-0 with Devin Ruppert throwing a no-hitter.

“Lincoln didn’t have his good control,” Shawn Ruppert said. “Other than that I was happy. I liked our defense. Our defense is playing well.

The Bucks improved to 21-9-1.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from Tuesday's game.