Pine River softball clipped in regional championship game

LAKEVIEW — Another regional title was not in the cards for the Pine River softball team. But the Bucks came extremely close to a dramatic comeback in their bid to advance to the quarterfinals for another season.

Pine River fell to Manistee 5-4 in the Division 3 regional title game at Lakeview on Saturday.

Manistee advanced to the quarterfinals on Tuesday with an 28-5 record.

Pine River blanked Central Montcalm 1-0 in the first game to advance to the regional finals.

The season ends at 31-11 for the Bucks who had eliminated Manistee in the regionals the past two seasons.

In the title game, Manistee fired out to a 5-0 lead after two innings against Pine River ace Miranda Nelson. The Chippewas scored two runs in the top of the first inning. Haley Maser and Rhiannon Robke led off with singles and an error by shortstop Cayman Gatt brought in a run.

Megan Vanderweele and Alyssa Tarnowski followed with RBI singles and Alexa Schneider’s squeeze bunt made it 4-0.

In the second, Maser singled again and was tripled home by Robke for a 5-0 lead.

Nelson shut the Chips down the rest of the game while Pine River started having some luck off Manistee starting and winning pitcher Destiny Blake.

Cayman Gatt had an RBI double in the bottom of the second and scored on a throwing error. Tiffany Waldfogel made it a 5-3 game in the bottom of the third with her solo over-the-fence home run Jamie Justin singled in the sixth and eventually scored on an error for a 5-4 game.

There were two outs and no one on in the bottom of the seventh when Waldfogel made her bid for the fence to tie the game with what would have been her second home run. Manistee outfielder No’el Solis caught the ball at the fence.

“My heart beat for a second,” said Pine River coach Laura Mumby. “I thought it was (a home run), but not quite.”

“We got to her early,” said Manistee coach Paul Maksym of Nelson. “They pecked away. I was debating whether or not to walk that No. 4 batter (Waldfogel). She almost put it out again.”

Maksym praised Solis for her defensive play.

“She felt bad dropping that one flyball (earlier in the game),” he said. “I said you have to regroup and forget about it. I said just keep your head in the game and she make a nice catch.”

Robke and Maser collected three hits apiece for Manistee while Tarnowski added two hits.

“There’s nothing to hang our heads about at 31-11,” Mumby said. “They went out fighting. I can’t take anything away from that.”

Gatt and Justin had two hits apiece for Pine River. Manistee had a 9-8 hits advantage.

“I have to give my kids credit,” Mumby said. “They didn’t give up the whole time. They fought through that game.”

In the win against Central Montcalm, Nelson threw a two-hitter, walking two and striking out three. Isabelle Williams had a three-hitter on the mound for Central.

“Miranda’s on her game right now,” Mumby said after the first game. “It’s a great time of the year to be pitching tough.”

The only run came in the fifth when Cayman Gatt belted a two-run triple and scored when Brooke Sebastiano reach base on an error.

“I just wanted to run fast,” Gatt said, adding that Central’s pitcher “was pretty tough. We could have hit her better than what we did. We should have.”

“I expected us to produce more offense,” Mumby said. “It seems like we’ve had our seven, eight and nine hitters in big games to come through for us.”

Central Montcalm’s season ended at 22-12.