Pine River baseball splits with Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Third baseman Kyle Brock, a senior is confident his Pine River baseball team can have a banner season this spring.

Pitching performances and timely hitting paved the way for both Big Rapids and Pine River in splitting a Saturday afternoon baseball non-conference doubleheader.

Big Rapids Aaron Jensen hurled a five-inning three-hitter in the first game for a 14-4 Big Rapids win and Devin Ruppert pitched all but one out for Pine River in the seven-inning second game that wound up 7-4 in the Bucks’ favor.

Isaac Wilkins took the loss. Brett Hastings, Anthony Hilkowski and Warner had hits for the Bucks.

Ruppert took a 7-3 lead into the seventh inning but, with two outs, issued a bases loaded walk. Lincoln Erickson came in to strike out Mike Martin and end the game.

“In the first game, we got off to a bad start, had some errors. In the second game, we did a lot better and didn’t have as many errors,” said Brock. “We hit the ball We woke up a little bit.”

Ruppert gave up seven hits and six walks while striking out seven.

“Devin pitched a nice game,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “We needed that. He threw strikes for the most part. In the first game, we walked too many guys. That puts our fielders on their heels. He got a little tired at the end.”

Nick Warner had three hits for the Bucks including a solo home run.

“We relaxed and used the bats better in the second game,” Ruppert said. “Jenson’s a good pitcher. We had lots of base runners and scored four runs. I was happy the way we competed against him.”

Pine River, 7-2, is home against Beal City Friday and has the Pine River Invitational Saturday.

“That means a lot of guys have to pitch,” Shawn Ruppert said. “I think we’ll be OK. We had a doubleheader last night. Nick and Lincoln will usually do a decent job. Devin pitched good today. We have to get that fourth person to throw strikes.”

It’s Brock’s second year on the varsity.

“I’ve gotten a lot better hitting the ball,” he said. “It’s from maturity and little bit of work in the summer league. I’m picking better pitches.”

Defensively at third base, Brock is comfortable with his throwing arm to first base. He said his glove is “a lot better.”

The Bucks “have gotten a lot better since the first day,” he said. “We want to compete in the Highland.”

On Friday, Pine River lost at Mason County Central 6-1 in the opener but won the second game 5-3.

Nick Warner took the loss in the opener. Anthony Hilkowski and Brock both had hits. Ruppert added an RBI. Erickson was the winner in the second game with 12 strikeouts. He scattered five hits. Brett Hastings had an RBI for the Bucks.