Pine River baseball team celebrates another district title

LEROY — The Pine River baseball team celebrated its 20th district title in program history with a 14-2 victory against Lake City in the Division 3 district finals at Pine River High School on Saturday.

The Bucks advanced to the district championship game after a 10-1 win over Reed City in the semifinals.

The Bucks easily disposed of Lake City with six runs in the first inning, six more in the fourth and another two in the fifth to secure the victory.

Skyler Nelson was the winning pitcher for the Bucks, giving up just one run on two hits with six strikeouts.

Lucas Harris was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored while Mason Powell was 1-for-3 with a stolen base and two RBIs. Andrew Albert and Matthew Goodenow also each hit RBI singles in the contest.

Greg Park pitched six innings, striking out 13 batters while holding the Coyotes to one run on five hits to secure the first-game victory.

Nelson went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored while Brandon Hoaglund drove in three runs on two hits, one being a double, and stole a base. Harris went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored and Tony Moore was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

“Overall, I was happy,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “I thought the guys did a good job on a warm day, keeping their concentration. We had a few errors the second game. But that game was almost done the first inning because we scored six runs off the bat.

“Other than that I was happy. I thought Greg struggled a little bit.  But then he got his composure back and pitched well after that. I thought Skyler threw well the second game. We hit the ball. We started out a little slow (offensively). We had some opportunities where we got doubled off on a line drive.”

Pine River is 26-5

The Bucks now move on to face Morley Stanwood this upcoming Saturday in a Division 3 regional semifinal match at Morley Stanwood High School. The two teams split a doubleheader at Pine River during the regular season recently.

“Any advantage you got from playing a team they got from playing you,” Ruppert said. “The guys are looking forward to having the opportunity to play at regionals again.”

The Bucks were also scheduled to have a tune-up for the regionals with a twinbill at Glen Lake on Wednesday.

As for Morley Stanwood, “I told the guys they're capable of beating us just like we're capable of beating them,” Ruppert said.

The other bracket will be Muskegon Oakridge and Mason County Central.

“We played Mason County Central last year and Oakridge in the regionals quite a few times,” Ruppert said. “This year I haven't seen them.”

Pioneer sports editor Greg Buckner also contributed to this report.