Highland Conference honors five Pine River baseball players

LEROY — It was a memorable season for Pine River’s baseball team, which advanced to the state quarterfinals before falling last week to Calvin Christian.

Four Pine River players have been named to the all-Highland Conference team announced recently.

Nelson drew honorable mention honors.

Lincoln Erickson, Joe Gingrich, Mitchell McDonald and Devin Ruppert were named to the first team while Skyler Nelson earned honorable mention honors.

Erickson, a senior pitcher, went 37 innings with a 5-2-1 record. He allowed 16 hits and seven earned runs plus 10 walks while striking out 74. His ERA was 0.93.

“He had a sore arm for much of the year but has been back tohis old self lately,” Ruppert said. “He really improved his hitting this year.”

McDonald, a sophomore outfielder, batted .398 with 38 runs scored, eight doubles, 13 RBI, 10 walks and 31 steals.

“He’s a very versatile player who allowed Devin to pitch because he came on as a catcher,” said Shawn Ruppert. “He has great hands and did an excellent job as our lead-off hitter.”

McDonald had a .952 fielding percentage.

Gingrich, a senior, played second base for Pine River.

“I improved a lot,” Gingrich said. “Last year I struggle moving around. Halfway during the year, I settled in at second. I feel I have a lot of speed so I can cover a lot of ground.”

Ruppert batted .394 for the Bucks with 26 RBIs, seven doubles, one homer, 14 walks, 23 steals and 19 runs scored.

“We used courtesy runners for him after he stole second or else (the steals number) would be higher.” Shawn Ruppert said.

Devin Ruppert, a pitcher and catcher, who is going to Muskegon Community College had 19 assists and a .974 field average. He threw out five of seven runners who tried to steal.

On the mound, he went 36.2 innings with an 8-0 record, allowing 14 hits, 11 earned runs, 79 strikeouts and 17 walks and recording a 1.47 ERA.

“He’s captain, has a relentless work ethic and is our team leader,” Shawn Ruppert said.

Nelson, a junior, also contributed highly to the Bucks’ offensive and defensive efforts this season.