THREE OAKS — The River Valley High School baseball and softball teams were up to the challenge of May 31 Division 4 pre-district contests played against a pair of long-time rivals.
The Mustang baseball team blanked Our Lady of the Lake 8-0 behind a shut-out performance from starter Ryder Wolnik and reliever Ashton McNabb.
At the softball diamond, River Valley rolled to a 15-1 triumph over Michigan Lutheran as Macey Springer was in control on the mound while RV hitters mixed in clutch hits with a series of walks and fielding miscues.
Both teams advanced to Friday afternoon, June 3, district semifinal games (the baseball squad set to open with New Buffalo while the softball team first meets Eau Claire). On the other side of the tourney are a softball match-up between Bridgman and New Buffalo and a Michigan Lutheran-Eau Claire baseball game – all played at River Valley.
The RV baseball team took a 1-0 lead on the Lakers in the first inning May 31 as Ethan Izydorski walked and came home on Ryder Wolnik’s two-base hit.
Cadden Krieger stroked a run-scoring single in the second stanza to double the margin.
The Mustangs tallied three big runs in there half of the fourth as Eli Thomas walked and later came home when the ball got away at the plate before Alex Patton drove in Ryder Wolnik and Chris Israelite (both had walked).
River Valley plated three more runs in the bottom of the fifth as Jaren Christ, Thomas and Ryder Wolnik all walked before Israelite swatted a low pitch to center field for an 8-0 advantage.
“I’m glad I could make something work,” Israelite said. “It wasn’t the most pretty hit, but it definitely got the job done.”
Wolnik scattered three hits while striking out seven over five innings. He also stayed under 75 pitches, leaving him eligible to take the mound in Friday’s district tourney.
River Valley coach Jason German said everyone is eligible for Friday’s games.
“I was just trying to get ahead in the count and throw strikes,” Wolnik said.
McNabb yielded one hit while fanning two over the last two innings.
At the softball field River Valley scored four times in the bottom of the first thanks to four walks and an Emma Reitz fly ball to center field falling to clear the loaded bases.
The Mustangs loaded the bases again in the third inning, with several wild pitches, a Lexi McCarty hit, and Kirsten Smith’s indie-the-park home run opening up a commanding 13-1 lead.
Smith said it was her first “inside-the-park anything” in a high school game.
“That felt really amazing,” she said.
Springer said the Mustangs “really took care of the details” and played solid defense against a squad that pushed them in the regular season (RV won the BCS while with the Titans finishing second).
“I’m beyond proud of this group,” said River Valley coach Dan Schaser.
The RV baseball team clinched the BCS White title with a 9-5 victory over Michigan Lutheran on May 23.
Jagger Wolnik finished with two hits and two runs batted in while Thomas had two singles, a triple and 2 RBI.
The Bridgman High School softball team secured second place in the BCS Red Division on May 24 by topping Brandywine 13-2.
Arie Hackett, Elise Schmaltz, Brianna Russell, Haylee Kanous and Melanie Warren all drove in two runs.
The Bobcats rallied from a 7-1 deficit in the second contest to win 8-7.
Emme Slavens and Hannah Johnson both went deep for Bridgman in the contest.
The Bee baseball team swept Niles by 6-4, 7-0 scores on May 26.
Jayce Warren had two hits and an RI in the opener while Trevr Malick, Alex MacMartin and Nik Greco all singled.
In the nightcap, Warren went deep and drove in three while Dylan Reisig doubled.
Bridgman is scheduled to face Constantine at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Division 3 district toureny at Buchanan.