Jordan Barchus and Connor Suing sign letters of intent to play baseball at the college level at a ceremony Thursday, Jan. 16. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Jordan Barchus and Connor Suing sign letters of intent to play baseball at the college level at a ceremony Thursday, Jan. 16. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Celts Jordan Barchus and Connor Suing will be trading in their blue-and-whites at the end of the school year and donning the jerseys of two Washington junior colleges.

Barchus and Suing signed letters of intent to play at Lower Columbia Community College and Clark College, respectively, at a ceremony in the McNary High School library last week.

Barchus, a middle in-fielder, will join a storied Red Devil program with 10 NWAACC championships, 36 West Division championships, and more than 75 players drafted into the big leagues.

“There is a new coach coming in this year (Eddie Smith) and I feel like his energy and the things he wants to do with the program are the things I want in a program,” Barchus said.

Smith got a chance to see Barchus in action over the summer and struck up conversations about his future. Smith said Barchus stuck out in a field of top players as a talented infielder and strong left-handed batter.

“Like a lot of players at this level, he’s still filling out his frame, and I think one of the things that attracted him to the program was our intense weight training and history of turning those players into D1 recruits,” Smith said.

As a strong player in a premier position, which is hard to find, Smith said, “he’ll have every chance to be one of those nine players who give us the best chance to win.”

Suing, a pitcher, joins the resurgent Penguin program under Head Coach Don Freeman. The Penguin reinstated their baseball program in 2011 after a 19-year hiatus.

“They have a program they’re just bringing it back. I’ll have a chance to be part of that and make a good impression,” Suing said. “We’re going to have a pretty good class of guys starting next year.”

Both players made contributions to the team as sophomores at McNary. Suing’s big moment was putting the batters of Lake Oswego High School on the ropes in a playoff game that year, but he was out much of his junior year due to injury. Barchus became a staple of a tough defense as a junior.

“They didn’t get here by accident. They worked for it,” said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach, at the signing ceremony. “They spend time working all year round to get to this point.”

Barchus, who plans to study kinesiology in hopes of become a team doctor, said he was most looking forward to new competition in a baseball-centric town, Longview, Wash.

“There’s going to be a lot of competition, but this is something I’ve loved since Little League. It’s something new and I’m excited for it,” Barchus said.

For Suing, who plans to study business and finance, it was a day to look back on how far he’d come.

“There’s been a lot of good memories and some bad ones, but it’s all part of the journey. It was part of the story that I had to finish,” Suing said.