Hammond's pitching, grand slam homer power keys Reed City to a regional semifinal win over Pine River

SCOTTVILLE – Reed City sophomore Max Hammond has been getting the job done for his baseball team either on the mound or in the batters box all season.

It was no exception on Thursday.

Hammond and his teammates had a superb performance in every area on Thursday in upending Pine River 18-3 in a six-inning Division 3 regional semifinal game at Mason County Central.

Pine River’s season ends at 21-8 while Reed City (21-15-1) went to Harbor Springs for a 12:30 p.m. regional title game against Traverse City St. Francis on Saturday (see related story).

Hammond threw three innings of no-hit ball against Pine River and struck out nine batters and walked one. Xavier Allen and Noah Morgan pitched the final three innings. Isaac Williams had two hits and two runs scored, Spencer Hansen had three hits and two runs scored,  Bryce Wein three hits and two runs scored and Morgan one hit and two runs scored.

At the plate, Hammond had four hits, including a grand slam home run, three runs scored and six RBIs. His eighth homer of the season came in the top of the sixth.

“We played pretty well all the way around,” Hammond said. “Everyone hit. The bats were going today. The pitchers threw strikes. It was a good day.”

The key for his outstanding hitting, Hammond said, is probably hanging in there and not trying too hard and just hitting it hard and seeing where it goes.”

Trent Howell had three hits and four RBIs, Isiah Moore had a hit and RBI, Allen had a hit and two runs scored. Isaac Williams had two hits and two runs scored, Spencer Hansen three hits and two runs scored,  Bryce Wein had three hits and two runs scored and Morgan one hit and two runs scored.

“I thought we played well,” Big Rapids coach Eric Grannis said. “We hit the ball much better. We started off a little slow. Pine River has a couple of good pitchers. The (Dillon) Blood kid and Nelson kid have been picking up the velocity during the playoffs.”

As for Hammond, “when Max is on, he’s pretty much unhittable,” Grannis said. “He faced 10 hitters. He threw a walk and the rest were all strikeouts. When he’s on it’s fun to watch. He was fantastic.”

Reed City fans also were able to enjoy watching Hammond hit the ball.

“He jumps on good pitches,” Grannis said. “He has an eye at the plate. He has a kid like Xavier Allen hitting behind him and that helps too.”                                                                                                                                 

Reed City had single runs in the second and third innings, six in the fourth, four in the fifth and six in the sixth. Pine River trailed 12-2 going into the fifth but scored a run to push the game into another inning.

Dillon Blood went three innings and took the pitching loss for Pine River. Cole Hill, Nathan Marks, Jordan Nelson and Jake Smith had hits for the Bucks.

“Dillon did a good job when he was in,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “We dropped two pop flies in the field and booted some groundballs. (Reed City) is good. They’ll give (St. Francis) a good game.”

It was the third time this season the Coyotes defeated Pine River.