By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Two wins and a fourth place finish in league pitted the McNary High School varsity baseball team against Glencoe High School in a play-in game for a spot in the state playoffs.
An 11-4 win in that game means the Celts will advance to the first round of the playoffs Monday, May 23.
The game looked to be a barn-burner in the first inning with both teams notching two runs. Glencoe added two more in the second, but the Celts pulled away in the bottom of the inning to score five runs as McNary pitcher Spencer Rice silenced Glencoe’s bats for the remainder of the game.
McNary secured fourth place in the Central Valley Conference with a 12-6 win over Sprague High School Tuesday, May 10.
“We were just hitting the ball really well after the first inning went by it set the pace for the whole game and they couldn’t catch back up to us,” said Garren Robinett, who homered in the game.
Celt Kyle Knight was having a tough day at the plate, but redeemed himself with a grand slam in the sixth inning.
“I struck out twice and pop flied out the next. I was just looking for that one good pitch to hit and I hit it hard,” Knight said.
Sophomore Ty Wyatt had a two-bagger in the outing.
Larry Keeker, McNary head coach, credited pitcher Spencer Rice with a well-pitched game. Robinett relieved him in the seventh inning to close it out.
“It was one of our better outings this season and the kids put it together when it really counted,” Keeker said.
The Celts ended regular season play with a 13-2 win over McKay High School Thursday, May 12. Robinett, Rice and Travis Marks all homered during the game.
“We pitched well, we got hold of our strikes, and got ahold of their pitches at the plate,” Marks said.
McNary leapt out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and held the Royal Scots to three hits with Justin Burgess and Jon Stong sharing duties on the mound.
The game was a relief for Keeker after McNary took a loss in the teams’ prior encounter earlier in the season.
“We didn’t feel like we’d played our best the last time we saw [McKay] and felt we needed to prove ourselves,” he said.
Some members of the team were sporting mohawks when they turned out for practice Monday, a sign of unity headed into the post season, Knight said.
“We’ve had to overcome our youth and a bunch of little struggles this season. When we hit the string of losses in the middle of the season we were getting on each other and not in a good way, but we overcame that,” Knight said.
Marks said it was a credit to the younger players that the team was able to scrape out the fourth place finish.
“We’ve had a lot of inexperienced players this season, but they’ve pitched in and we’ve made it work.”