Pine River summer baseball team sneaks past Evart 11-9

LEROY  — Pine River shaded Evart 11-9 in a single game on Wednesday for both teams as they wind down their summer seasons.

Evart coach Josh Johnson said it was probably the final summer game for his players, many of whom will be working on football during upcoming weeks.

Billy Conklin, Layne Nadig, Josh Dorn and Garrett Johnson did the pitching for Evart. Christian Booher, Billy Conklin and Dorn had two hits, while Ty Sochocki also had a hit for the Wildcats.

Johnson said he was able to give his players some experience and accomplish what he wanted. But it’s also been a challenge getting in summer games because of time conflicts.

“I’m bringing up two seventh graders every time,” Johnson said, adding he’s not planning on any additional summer games unless he’s contacted by someone else.

Players like Nadig are hoping for a championship baseball season next spring and said it was critical for players to see summer action.

“You want to stay in the rhythm of things and check out some younger players,” he said.

Pine River had Steve Hiltkowski, Raden Holmes, Luke Hill and Matt Stone as its pitchers.

Tristen Nelson had three hits while Hill and Andrew Park had two. Lane Ruppert and Holmes had hits.

“We had some kids do some different things,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “We only had nine kids with us tonight.”

Nelson will be a senior for the 2016-17 season.

“It’s been a good summer,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of young guys come in help with us and that’s been good. We’re focusing on fundamentals and having fun with summer ball, hitting the ball.”

Last week was the MHSAA mandated dead week for high school sports but Nelson and other area football players are back into summer activity this week.

“Summer sports is really important,” Nelson said. “It keeps the team together and keeps everything going so it doesn’t seem weird when the season starts.”