Evart baseball earns split with Big Rapids

Evart’s Billy Conklin (middle) finds himself in a rundown and is about to be tagged out by Big Rapids’ Connor Kinnally (7). (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

EVART — Two late-game rallies for Evart was not in the books on Wednesday.

But one successful rally did the trick.

The Wildcats rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth in a 5-4 win over Big Rapids in the first game. They erased a 8-0 deficit in the second game but Big Rapids hung on for a 13-9 win.

LJ Graves and Jace Gray had two hits and an RBI apiece in the first game while Cam Clark, Jacob Martinson and Jayden Mason all had RBIs.

Keaton Ballard went four innings and allowed one earned run, four hits and no walks and fanned three batters.

Gray was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs in the second game. Bird had two hits including a triple and two RBIs. Elliott Blair had two hits while Mason had three hits, four runs scored, plus a double and two RBIs, plus two stolen bases.

“I feel like we did pretty good but we definitely could have done better,” Gray said.

Mason pitched the last three innings to get the win. Connor Kinnally started and went 2 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs

“I thought we played tough gritty baseball,” Evart coach Josh Johnson said. “In the second game, we were down 8-0 after one and were up one late but was at the point where we’re out of pitching.”

Billy Conklin had a successful suicide squeeze bunt for the sixth run of the first game. Parker Henry was the winning pitcher in relief. Ty Sochocki had a single while Witbeck had an RBI and Conklin had two singles and an RBI. Justin O’Dell and Garrett Johnson both had singles and Reagan had an RBI.

In the second game, Sochocki had two singles and three RBIs, Johnson, Conklin and Henry both had a single and RBI. Carter Pritchard had two singles.

“Evart is really well coached and they play hard,” Big Rapids coach Sam Daugherty said. “They’re a really good ballclub. They gave us everything we could want and more. Josh does an outstanding job teaching the fundamentals and those guys play hard all the time.”

Big Rapids is 16-7 overall.

“Like Josh, I was limited with pitching today,” Daugherty said. “We have to save (two pitchers) for Friday.”

The Cardinals play at Central Montcalm on Friday in a critical CSAA Gold twinbill. The Cards are 8-1 and CM is 9-1.

“We continue to hit the ball and our pitching is fine,” Daugherty said. “Our problem is defense and putting people away when we have a lead. It’s something we have to correct to be successful.”

Evart is 17-5 overall and is at Montabella on Saturday.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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