By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Late innings were not kind to the McNary High School varsity baseball team last week.
The Celtics lost a 4-3 contest to Newberg High School when the Tigers put up a three-run seventh inning Wednesday, April 2. A 8-7 loss to Oregon City High School in 10 innings followed on Thursday, April 3. The team bounced back and took a win over West Linn High School Monday, April 7.
“The games last week were ones that we thought were winnable, but it came down to missing opportunities that would have made the difference. We were relying on offense production only part of the game and it wasn’t working,” said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach.
McNary had as much as a 3-1 lead against Newberg before the wheels came off. The first McNary run came when Travis Klampe scored on a ground out by Connor Suing in the bottom of the third inning. Jordan Barchus made it 2-0 by scoring on a Jacob Wood sacrifice fly.
Newberg shrunk the lead to 2-1 with a run in the top of the sixth inning, but Celt Jacob Vasas scored on a single by Tristan Mistkawi to keep the team ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the frame. Timely hits by Newberg lifted the team over McNary.
Klampe led at the plate going 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored. Mickey Walker pitched five innings with seven strikeouts and four hits.
Against Oregon City, McNary battled back from a 2-0 deficit, but the Pioneers paced the Keizer team throughout the game.
The Pioneers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, but McNary responded with five runs in the top of the sixth.
Suing got things started with a bunt and beat the throw to first. Barchus singled, and Suing made it to third on the play. Connor Goff singled scoring Suing, and pinch runner Ben Cummings took over for him at first base. Hayden Gosling drew a walk that loaded the bases and Barchus scored when Klampe was hit with a pitch. Wood put a sacrifice fly in the air and reached first on an error while scoring Cummings. Tim Hays scored Gosling on another sacrifice fly, and Mistkawi singled to bring Klampe home. The teams exited the field on a pop fly to centerfield by Suing, but the Celts had a 5-2 lead.
Oregon City came back to the plate and scored five runs of its own keeping their two-run lead.
A two-RBI double by Gosling in the top of the seventh knotted the game at 7-7, and locked the teams in a stalemate for two innings.
A Goff single put Celt Mickey Walker on third in scoring position with two outs at the top of the 10th, but a ground out to first base ended the team’s stand. A wild pitch by Suing in the bottom of the frame put the Pioneers in a winning position with a man on third and a single by Oregon City’s Jalen Satter brought in the go-ahead run.
Barchus had the most productive day at the plate, going 2 for 5 with a RBI and two runs scored. Klampe pitched five innings with six strikeouts, and four runs on two hits. Suing pitched four innings with four runs on five hits and five strikeouts.
In the West Linn game, Keeker said it was as though a different team had taken the field.
“We had our best overall performance this season in terms of pitching defense and offense. We executed sacrifice bunts, squeeze bunts, we had RBI base hits that were crucial. And Jordan (Barchus) pitched a dandy of a game.,” he said.
Barchus allowed only five hits in a complete game effort, but Keeker said it was first-pitch strikes that made the difference. Barchus had 10 of them.
“We have to throw strike one early in the count, if we do it makes it all a lot easier,” Keeker said.
McNary had a 2-1 lead at the top of the third, but the Lions tied it in the bottom of the fourth.
“Our offense did a good job of putting the ball in play against a better-than-average pitcher. It was a matter of getting the timing down, and the entire team did a good job of adjusting,” Walker said.
Lion pitcher Kramer Lindell has already signed on with the University of Washington Huskies to continue his career this fall.
After a scoreless inning on both sides of the field, Wood took a base when he was hit by a pitch in the second at-bat of the inning. Mistkawi singled to centerfield putting McNary runners at first and second. A Hays single to right field scored Wood and moved Mistkawi to third. Cole Thomas came in as a courtesy runner for Hays at first.
“Our offense came together and played a complete game. We didn’t do that last week and it bit us in the butt,” Barchus said.
Gosling drew a walk loading the bases, and a single by Suing brought Mistkawi home. Walker bunted and scored Thomas for the final run of the inning and a 5-2 lead. The Celts added their final run in the next inning when Mistkawi doubled to drive in Goff for the 6-2 win.
Both Walker and Barchus were anticipating how the team’s new momentum might drive it heading into the Central Valley Conference games.
“If our team plays up to our potential we can do great things and this week I really want to see if we can continue the momentum,” Walker said.