Bucks sweep the Ramblers in their first Highland Conference twinbill to remain undefeated

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. Mitchell McDonald, who had three hits including a double, had a bases-loaded triple in the fourth. He had six RBIs for the game. Skyler 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.”