BY ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
After losing four of its last seven games, the head coach of McNary High School’s varsity baseball team makes no bones about his assessment of where the team stands.
“We’re on a bit of a roller coaster,” said Larry Keeker, Celtic skipper. “I think we’ve lost some of our confidence when it comes to fielding, but they’ve proven they can make these plays already and we need to get them back to that point.”
McNary sandwiched a win over Sprague High School between losses to South Salem and McKay high schools last week.
The team started with a 5-3 loss to South in which the Celtics ended up stranding runners that might have closed the gap.
“We had two innings when we got guys on and couldn’t get them in,” Keeker said.
The Saxons leapt out to a 5-0 start in two innings and McNary never seemed to find its footing.
“We came out slow and they had little dinks that we weren’t fielding, we just couldn’t find enough hits toward the end,” added DJ Harryman, a McNary junior.
Keeker was relieved when the boys bounced back to take a 11-5 win over Sprague, in a game Harryman said it was the team’s best outing since a preseason game with Beaverton High School.
“It took us a while to get going, but we finally did and beat them,” said Justin Gardner, a Celt junior.
Harryman and Spencer Rice slapped home runs in the game and Ty Wyatt got a double. A six-run sixth inning sealed the deal for the Celts. It was the second time the Celts beat Sprague this season meaning McNary will host a tie-breaker game if needed to reach the state playoffs.
Injury, work schedules and other maladies kept the team from fielding the line-up Keeker would have preferred in its game with McKay High School, it ended in a 9-7 loss for the Celts. McNary fell behind 4-1 early in the game, but a three-run homer by Kyle Knight in the fifth put the Celtics back into it.
“Going into the seventh all we had to do was get three outs and we couldn’t do it,” Gardner said. “We just need to be scrappy and fight when we get down, instead of staying down.”
Free bases put pressure on the team that it couldn’t overcome, Keeker said.
“I think our pitching was fine most of the week, but we need to get better defensively, we make a lot of errors on grounders. We’re striking out way too much and we need to force them to make errors by putting more balls in play,” said Celt Spencer Rice, a senior.
The team needs to reignite the spark they showed early in the season with a string of come-from-behind victories.
“Coming from behind is being able to compete when things aren’t going so well. When the other team makes a run, you have to be able to answer,” Keeker said. “We have to stay together, circle the wagons and make sure we’re pulling in the same direction.”
Where: Applebee’s at 2625 Liberty St. NE.
Time: Saturday, May 7, 7-10 a.m.
Cost: $7 per person