Reed City baseball impresses in win over Manton, awaits Pine River

By Martin Slagter
Pioneer Sports Editor

EVART— Short, sweet and to the point. That’s probably the best way to describe Reed City’s district-opening win over Manton — an 11-0, five-inning affair that took all of an hour and 15 minutes to complete.

The win left Reed City (16-13) baseball coach Scott Shankel impressed in all facets of the game. Every member of the Coyotes’ lineup got a hit, while starting pitcher Evan Stieg surrendered just one hit and struck out 11 batters.

“It was unbelievable,” Shankel said. “We got some of the best hitting performances we’ve gotten all year (Wednesday). It’s a good time for us to be coming around.”

The win was highlighted by a nine-run fourth inning that saw Dylan Kichak hit a pair of RBI doubles and Josh Justin smack a bases-clearing triple.

Justin said the team was aggressive at the plate, but still patient with pitch selection against Manton pitcher Tyler O’Dell.

“I was going up there looking for the first fastball he was going to pitch,” Justin said. “That was probably the best we’ve hit the ball all year.”

Shankel said he liked his team’s aggressive approach on offense.

“We were jumping on the first pitch strikes,” he said.

Reed City was led offensively by Kichak, who had two hits and two RBIs, while Alex Repo added two hits and an RBI. Codie Strach, Justin, Mike Buss, Glen Ryder, Ricky Droke and Stieg each had a hit in the win.

Stieg made quick work of the Manton lineup, giving up one hit and no walks. He said the key to his success on the mound to getting first-pitch strikes.

“I tried to get up in the count,” he said. “It was windy, so I had to figure out how to pitch into that. The defense did a good job behind me.”

Shankel said Stieg continues to come up with big pitching performances in key games for the Coyotes.

“I think he threw his best game, by far, since the Big Rapids game,” he said. “He’s thrown well for us all year, but he was just on a mission (Wednesday). He was hitting all of his spots and had Manton chasing a lot of pitches.”

Reed City will now take on Pine River at 10 a.m. on Saturday — a game that will test Reed City at the plate and on defense, Shankel said.

“It’s going to be a huge test for us,” he said. “Most people have (Pine River) as the front-runner in this district, so we’ll need to continue hitting like we have.”