Pine River enjoys league victories over McBain

LEROY  — The undefeated Pine River Bucks picked a fine way to open their Highland Conference baseball season Thursday night.

The Bucks improved to 8-0 overall with 12-2 and 15-4 victories over McBain. Both games ended on the mercy rule after five innings.

“I was happy with the way we swung the bats,” said Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert. “I thought we were aggressive at the plate. I was happy with how we ran the bases. We were aggressive.”

In the opener, Greg Park went all five innings and allowed two runs. He walked two batters and struck out four. He allowed eight hits.

Lucas Harris had two hits and three RBIs for the Bucks while Brandon Hoaglund had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs.

In the second game, the Bucks built a 9-2 lead after three innings and scored six more times in the top of the fourth. McDonald, who had three hits including a double, had a bases-loaded triple in the fourth. He had six RBIs for the game. Nelson had three hits and two RBIs. Grant Ruppert had two hits.

McDonald went three innings as the starter, allowing two runs,with one earned, striking out one and allowing four hits and no walks. Nelson went the final two, striking out five and allowing two runs and no walks.

“I didn’t think Greg had his best stuff,” Ruppert said. “Mitch did well I thought. Skyler did a nice job, too.”

The Bucks played the last two innings with only two outfielders because of an injury.

Mason Powell, a freshman second baseman/outfielder, also had a strong game.

“I practiced with the JVs for the first week, after that I practiced with the varsity,” Powell said. “I was excited. I get along with the upperclassmen. It’s nice to share the experience with them.

“I’m still adjusting. I’ve had some mishaps. It’s freshman nerves.”

Powell has been trying to adjust to varsity pitching.

“I hit the ball pretty well, I’m getting the hang of it,” he said. “I’ve definitely improved since my first game. You have to listen to the coach, try to hit the gaps and get on base.”

As a fielder ‘“my arm’s all right but I have a pretty good glove,” he said.

The Bucks had to battle the elements again on Thursday, including a hard-blowing wind. But they’ve gotten in four doubleheaders so far.

“It’s fun to see some games,” Ruppert said.

Pine River plays a twinbill at Big Rapids on Monday.

“We’re playing well,” Powell said. “We’re not up to our potential yet, but we’re working. We could do better but we’re not doing bad. We have a lot of pitchers that can throw strikes. We have very good bats. We can hit the ball well. Our defense is pretty good.

“I believe we’ll win a lot of games. We have to play to our potential.”

Pine River 12-9, Farwell 4-4

Meanwhile Pine River’s baseball team improved to 6-0 with 12-4 and 9-4 non-league victories over Farwell on Tuesday, April 22.

Skyler Nelson was the winning pitcher in the first game, going three innings and allowing four earned runs. Michelle McDonald went the rest of the way to get the save.

McDonald was 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Greg Park was the winning pitcher in the second game. Brandon Hoaglund and Mason Powell pitched in relief. Nelson was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

“I thought we executed well,” Ruppert said, noting that despite the weather, “we scored a lot of runs.”

Junior Lucas Harris has been playing various positions including first base for the Bucks and indicated first was his best position.

He said he was struggling with his hitting early in the season but was looking forward to warm weather to help him out in that category.

“We’re lacking the pitching (from last year), but I think our offense is just as good or better as last year,” he said.

Pitching will be a key for the Bucks, Harris indicated.