Pine River's season ends in regional at Morley Stanwood

MORLEY — Pine River’s baseball season ended last weekend in a dandy pitcher’s dual that included Greg Park.

Morley Stanwood defeated Pine River, 2-1, in a defensive battle to advance to the Division 3 regional final on Saturday, but the Mohawks couldn’t get the offense rolling against Muskegon Oakridge in the title game, falling 4-0.

The Mohawks made it to the finals after beating Pine River, 2-1, in a pitching showdown between Park and Tim Cairnduff. Park pitched well, allowing four hits with his seven strikeouts, but Cairnduff came out on top, fanning 15 Bucks batters in the victory, while surrendering just one hit and one walk.

“(Cairnduff) struck out the first five batters and he was bringing it,” Mohawk coach Josh Bull said. “The thing I was most impressed with was his competitiveness. There wasn’t a time when he didn’t want the ball in his hand ... I thought we needed that kind of effort to beat Pine River. We went out there and beat their ace, and that’s not easy to do.”

The Bucks finally broke the scoring drought in the third, scoring a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 1-0.

The Mohawks were quick to answer, getting both of their runs in the bottom of the third inning when Chase Huntey brought Jon Lagendyk home on a triple to make it 1-1. Cairnduff then helped his own cause with a single to bring Huntey across the plate, giving the Mohawks a 2-1 lead that would hold for the duration of the contest.

The Bucks got runners on first and third in the fourth, but Cairnduff picked up another strikeout to end the inning.

Pine River’s Luke Harris made it to third base in the sixth with two outs and tried to steal home, but a heads up play by the catcher Nic Huntey kept the score at 2-1.

“You can’t strike out 15 times and expect to win a game,” said coach Shawn Ruppert. “That’s the one thing I worried about with them. Tim pitched well against us the first time (during the regular season at Pine River). I knew if he was on ... he threw to the umpire’s strike zone. He was giving the outside corner and Tim was hitting it. That made it tough on the batters.”

Pine River’s Mason Powell picked up the Bucks’ lone hit of the afternoon.

“In baseball and softball, one player can make the difference,” Ruppert said. “(Cairnduff) dominated. He really did. When we put the ball in play, which wasn’t a lot ... Greg did his job. We didn’t hit the ball, but (Cairnduff) did a nice job pitching to the strike zone.”

Pine River finished at 26-6.

The Bucks played a nine-inning game at Glen Lake on Wednesday to prepare for the regional.

“Everybody got to play,” Ruppert said. “They pitched their (number) three and four pitchers.”

Pioneer Sports Writer Daine Pavloski contributed to this report.