Reed City-Evart Minor Division little League team advances to state championship play

Little League: Reed City-Evart Minor Division players celebrate their win over Oakridge last week. (Courtesy photo)
Little League: Reed City-Evart Minor Division players celebrate their win over Oakridge last week. (Courtesy photo)

REED CITY — It’s off to the Minor Division Little League state championship tournament at Muskegon Oakridge this weekend for the Reed City-Evart 9-10-year-old all-star team.

The local team won the district title after defeating Roosevelt Park 7-5 in the title game Friday at Oakridge.

Pool play is this Friday through Sunday.

If the team advances past that, it will play in next Monday’s quarterfinal round.

Reed City-Evart won three straight pool play games last week to advance to the semifinals Thursday at Oakridge against the host team. Reed City-Evart beat Oakridge. Danny Witbeck started and went into the fifth inning. He used up his 75 pitches and gave up three runs. Pierce Johnson came in to finish the game for RC-Evart.

Johnson had a hit and scored a run. Witbeck scored two hits and scored a run. Gavin Wirth added two hits and scored a run. Brycen Shively had a hit, scored a run and added two RBIs, Payton Hansen had a double and scored a run and Nate Sochocki had a hit.

That put the RC-Evart team in the title game against Roosevelt Park.

Wirth pitched the first three innings and allowed four runs, while having three strikeouts for the win. Trevor Woodard pitched the last two innings.

Johnson had two hits and two runs scored for RC-Evart while Wirth added a hit and run scored, Payton Hansen had two hits with an over-the-fence home run. Shively added two hits and run scored, Trevor Woodard added a hit and Fischer Morrison had a hit and run scored.

“Defensively in the game, Brycen Shively made a diving catch with the tying runs on base,” said RC-Evart coach Mark Sochocki.

Those five straight wins came on five consecutive days. The previous Saturday, RC-Evart lost 5-4 to Roosevelt Park.

“The kids played tremendous,” Sochocki said. “They showed a lot of poise and maturity on the field for 9 and 10 year olds. They made some great defensive plays the whole tournament. The last three games, we started hitting the ball well against all pitchers we faced.”

The coaches saved their top two pitchers for Thursday and Friday. “It was a gamble because it meant we had to save them and not pitch them much in other games,” Sochocki said. “But it paid off for us.”

This week, “it’s all new territory for all of us,” Sochocki said. “We didn’t expect to take it this far. That’s a good thing. The kids performed well. Now its best to the best 16 teams in the state. We want to keep playing the way we played and do the things that got us to this point.”


On Wednesday in Reed City, to close pool play, RC-Evart beat White Lake 13-6.

“The game was played in Reed City in front of the largest crowd that I have ever seen at a Little League game,” Sochocki said. “The support from both the Reed City and Evart folks was tremendous.”

Offensively, Hanson had his best game of the Little league district tournament so far with a triple, two singles and two RBI, Shively played long ball with his first ever home run over the fence which was a two-run shot and added a single, Trevor Woodard added two hits including a triple, Witbeck had three base hits and two RBIs, Johnson had two hits including a double and scored two runs, Jeffery Samuels had two base hits, Nate Sochocki had a base hit and two RBI’s, Gavin Wirth had a base hit and RBI and Morrison had a hit and scored a run.

Witbeck pitched two shutout innings to start the game and then was relieved by Payton Hansen who pitched three solid innings holding White Lake to four runs.

“Nate Sochocki had an outstanding game behind the plate, catching all six innings and throwing out a runner trying to steal second base. Ian Couch, Isiah Moore and Darren Gostlin all had good defensive efforts in the outfield,” Mark Sochocki said.

The boys played extremely well considering this was the fourth game in five days in some pretty hot conditions. We played sluggishly the game before but kids went out and really hit the ball well. Our pitchers have been throwing extremely well and defensively we have been making the plays in the infield and outfield.”

On Tuesday, July 16, Reed City-Evart won a pool play game at Big Rapids 9-8

“It was a great game down until the last out, Big Rapids had the tying run on third and Payton Hanson scooped up a hard ground ball and fired over to first base to end the game and stop a big rally in which BR scored three runs to cut the lead to one,” Sochocki said.

Woodard started at pitcher and pitched 2 and 2/3 solid innings, followed by Wirth, Johnson and Morrison.

Leading the way at the plate was Woodard with three hits and two runs scored, Johnson with a base hit and two runs scored and two RBIs, and Wirth and Witbeck, both with a base hit and RBI.