Undefeated Bucks win home invitational

LEROY — Pine River’s undefeated baseball team picked up wins No. 16 and 17 on Saturday, but also earned a tournament trophy.

The Bucks won their home invitational with 18-1 and 11-3 victories over Houghton Lake and Kent City.

“We hit the ball pretty well,” Pine River coach Shawn Ruppert said. “I think we got a little bit sloppy that second game. Other than that, I was happy with how the guys played.”

The win over Houghton Lake in the Bucks’ first game lasted only four innings. Tony Moore was the winning pitcher allowing one hit and striking out two. Mason Powell had a triple and home run plus five RBIs while Nick Shimel had a hit and three RBIs, Lucas Harris had a double and RBI, Alex Knapp had a home run and RBI while Dylan Loop had a single and RBI.

Greg Park was the winning pitcher in the second game, allowing two earned runs, four hits and two walks, striking out 13. Harris had a double, triple and RBI, Powell added three hits, including a double and two RBI, and Knapp had two hits and three RBIs.  Park had three hits, Tyler Wing a single and RBI and Grant Ruppert a single and two RBIs.

“I thought we played pretty good defense,” Harris said. “We hit the ball better than we have been. It was a good day.”

Pine River had a showdown with Highland Conference power Beal City at home on Tuesday.

“We’ll have to play good ball,” Ruppert said prior to the game. “You think that every year ‘this is the year we’re going to get them.’  You’d better be ready to play ball. They’re not going to give you runs, you have to earn them.”

“We have to focus on the fundamentals and don’t make mistakes on the basepaths,” Harris said. “We can’t make errors and have to hit the ball.”

The Aggies are defending league champs and have been the Division 4 state runners-up the past two seasons.

“Even if their record isn’t that great, they play Mount Pleasant High and Shepherd, teams like that,” Ruppert said.

“17-0 is a great start,” Harris said. “It’s been good defense and good pitching. Even we don’t hit the ball as well as we usually do, defense backs our pitchers up.”

Pine River sweeps NMC

Pine River posted 10-0 and 14-4 wins in five and six innings in Highland Conference action on April 29.

“We had good pitching again,” Ruppert said. “I had a chance to throw a lot. Mason Powell did a good job throwing strikes. Lucas Harris did a good job in the second game and just had that one bad inning in the fifth.”

Park was the winning pitcher in the first game, allowing no hits and striking out nine in three innings. Powell went two innings, striking out five and allowing no walks and two hits.

 McDonald had a double and three RBIs, Knapp had a hit, Powell added a hit, double and two RBIs and Shimel had one hit and one RBI.

In the second game, Pine River got out to an early 3-0 lead. Harris went 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and two hits while striking out four. Marcus Washington contributed two hits and four RBI while Moore had two hits, and Harris and McDonald both had a hit and RBI. Also contributing hits were Grant Ruppert, Knapp, Powell, Shimel and Loop.

“We had some nice hits today,” Ruppert said. “NMC’s pitchers really weren’t that bad. Their pitcher that second game threw well and I was happy to get three runs right off the bat. That made a difference.”

“I thought we played good,” Washington said. “We played good all around. The pitchers have been doing a good job. We haven’t been doing that good in batting but I think it will get better throughout the year.”

The Bucks are 4-0 in the Highland.