By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity baseball team stumbled a bit in its first outing Monday, March 17. The Celtics lost 3-1 to Reynolds High School.
McNary struggled to put runners on the bases in the early going. Senior Connor Suing made it to first on a walk in the bottom of the third and stole second but ended the inning stuck there.
“We had too many balls that were not squared up and, as a result, we had way too many weak ground balls,” said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach.
Travis Klampe started the day on the mound and had Reynolds on the ropes with two on and two out in the first, but a line drive to the fence scored two on a triple. Another line drive to the right center outfield scored the third run and Reynolds never looked back. Three defensive errors on the part of McNary in the first didn’t help the cause.
“The seventh inning was a major disappointment at the plate. With a lead-off walk we had a chance to put some pressure on them, but we struck out looking three times in a row,” Keeker said.
Suing got the only McNary run of the game on a RBI by Mickey Walker in the sixth inning.
Klampe pitched four innings with seven strikeouts. Suing closed the contest from the mound allowing just one walk.
Keeker said the game with Reynolds was only a snapshot of the team and there’s lots of ball left to play, but there were lessons they could use moving ahead.
“It was only the first game, and I still believe we have a solid defense,” Keeker said. “We will have to be better at the plate. We need all nine guys contributing with quality at bats. Our mental approach must get better.”
The Celts found their swing in a follow-up game with Silverton High School Tuesday, March 18. McNary had seven hits in a 6-2 win.
Silverton had a 1-0 lead at the bottom of the first, but the Celts returned to the plate for a three-run third inning. The Keizer team padded the lead with two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth.
Tim Hays scored two runs and hit a double. Cole Thomas, Ben Cummings and Hayden Gosling all had RBIs. Walker was the winning pitcher and had eight strikeouts in 5.1 innings.