By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary Celtics won the Oregon Junior Division II state title two weeks ago at a tournament in Canby.
The team, comprised mostly of sophomores alongside three juniors, swept the three-game tournament held July 27-29.
The team kept their focus through most of the season en route to a 23-7 record, said Head Coach Brodie Cavaille. Baseball strategy has changed quite a bit with new bats that aren’t as generous as their predecessors and the team is adapting well with focus on fundamentals.
“The bats really change the dynamic, you can’t sit around waiting for a double or a home run. You’ve got to be able to run, bunt and steal and the kids responded to that by playing tough defense and being mechanically sound,” Cavaille said.
The Celts opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Scappoose, but it wasn’t exactly a shining moment offensively.
“Mickey Walker was our pitcher and he battled, he pitched well enough that it should have been a sure win, but we stuck it out,” Cavaille said.
The team found firmer footing in a second-round game with Reynolds that ended in a 9-6 win. A six-run first put McNary in the driver’s seat, but then “they took the foot off the gas,” Cavaille said.
Reynolds edged back into the game as McNary started playing “not to lose rather than trying to win.”
The final match-up with Central was low scoring, but Cavaille said neither coaches nor players sweated the outcome.
“Tim Hays pitched for us and pitched really well then Mickey came in to shut them down in the last inning,” Cavaille said.
Base-running errors kept the team from more of a blow-out.
In addition to Hays and Walker, Cavaille credited Aaron VanCleave with outstanding performances on the mound this season. Dalton Lindsey hit almost .500 from the dish.
During regular season play, the league title ended up a three-way battle between McNary, Sprague and Dallas, the eventual winner. However, McNary won the seeding tournament earning the best placement headed into the state tournament.
“They had a good summer with ups and downs, but they stuck it out and have lots of reasons to be proud,” Cavaille said.
The other members of the team are: Nick LaFountaine, Jacob Vasas, Kody Plaza, Isaiah Pack, Ben Cummings, Sam Fry, Jordan Emerich, Cole Thomas, Carter Alt, Robbie Johnstone.