Big Rapids baseball sweeps Reed City, takes first place in CSAA Gold

Big Rapids’ Johnny Yonker rifles a pitch during Tuesday’s game. (Pioneer photo/Maxwell Harden)

REED CITY — It was a picturesque day for baseball as the Reed City  Coyotes hosted the Big Rapids Cardinals Tuesday with the top spot in the CSAA Gold on the line.

The Cardinals earned a 6-5 victory in game one and won 8-2 in game two, both of which were come-from-behind wins. Both teams entered Tuesday’s action unbeaten in conference play.

“We were very fortunate to win that first game and we got a couple breaks in the second game,” Big Rapids coach Sam Daugherty said. “I’m proud of my guys for grinding out these two games.”

“We thought we were ready to go,” Reed City coach Marty Shaffer said. “We didn’t play clean baseball. Big Rapids is a quality team and they deserved those wins. We just didn’t play clean baseball.”

The Coyotes got off to a strong start with Simon Moreno and Jeffery Phenix each hitting home runs. Reed City took a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning before a Braeden Childress two-run home run tied the game at 4-4. Jace Gray and Aaron Repke would score runs to go up 6-4 and the Cardinals hung on to win in eight innings.

Johnny Yonker (8-0) pitched a complete game for the Cardinals, striking out eight batters and giving up four earned runs and seven hits. Aaron Repke had three hits, one RBI, and one run and Jackson Lund had two hits, one RBI, and one home run, while Jayden Mason added one double. Connor Kinnally had one hit and one run and Childress had one home run and two RBIs.

“These wins feel really good,” Childress said. “Honestly, the fact that we had to play against Reed City was one of the main reasons I decided to come out for baseball this year. They beat us in our second basketball matchup this year, so it felt really good to get some revenge.”

Simon Moreno had two hits and one home run and Jeffery Phenix had one home run, while Hunter Morrison added one hit, two runs, and one stolen base. Brandon Wirth pitched 5 1/3 innings.

Game two started similarly to game one for the Coyotes, with a Morrison home run in the bottom of the first inning giving Reed City an early 1-0 lead. But the Cardinals would reel off seven consecutive runs before winning the game 8-2.

Lund pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run while striking out eight batters. He also had three hits, two RBIs, and one run. Repke had one hit, three runs, and one RBI and Gray had two doubles and two runs, while Kinnally added one single, one double, and one RBI. Elliott Blair had one hit, one run, and an RBI.

Pitching and timely hitting were the keys to the game for the Cardinals.

“The two pitching performances led us today,” Daugherty said. “Our hitting masked a lot of our defensive mistakes. We have to get better defensively before districts.”

For Reed City, Moreno and Phenix had one hit apiece and Morrison and Cody Kailing had one hit and one RBI, with Morrison’s hit being a home run.

Morrison turned in a fine pitching performance, striking out 14 batters while giving up three earned runs and one walk in 5 1/3 innings.

“Hunter is one of the top pitchers in the state,” Daugherty said. “We just made him work and took advantage of a couple of mistakes.”

The Cardinals (14-2, 9-0) face Tri County on Thursday to finish the second game of their doubleheader, which was postponed due to weather. Big Rapids aims to remain focused as the regular season begins to wind down.

“Right now, we have to be careful about being too happy about these wins,” Daugherty said. “We have five more conference games. We have to keep our eyes on the prize.”

The Coyotes aim to finish the season strong as they play White Cloud on Friday.

“It’s good to get knocked in the teeth once and awhile,” Shaffer said. “Hopefully, we can get back on the horse and get some wins this weekend.”

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