By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
It might be cold consolation given the McNary High School varsity baseball team’s losses to McKay and South Salem high schools last week, but the Keizer team has dealt blows to the top two teams in the league in as many weeks.
After getting a win over the Central Valley Conference-leading West Salem High School the last full week of April, the Celtics beat second-place North Salem High School 8-4 Thursday, May 1.
The Vikings and Celts were tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning when McNary uncorked a four-run offensive stand.
“To be honest, we were ready for a win after taking three losses,” said Celt Tristin Mistkawi. “We’re doing this thing where we lose all the away games and win all the ones at home.”
Celt Connor Goff got the team started with a double on the first pitch, Mistkawi singled to left field, putting runners at first and second. A single by Travis Klampe singled to score Goff, but Mistkawi drew a forced out at third fielder’s choice single by Matt Aguilar. Jacob Wood loaded the bases on a single and Klampe scored on a single by Mickey Walker. A single by Jordan Barchus scored Aguilar and Wood. A ground out to second base by Hayden Gosling ended the inning for McNary, but the the Celts had a 5-1 lead.
Cole Thomas scored on a single by Walker with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Wood scored on a fielding error and a sacrifice fly by Barchus plated Walker. The Vikings mustered two runs in the top of the seventh, but Klampe and Gosling combined to get an out at home plate. Walker struck out his final batter looking.
“That win meant we split every series so far,” said Goff, a junior. “If we can just win out the rest of the season we’re definitely not going to be in last place.”
Walker pitched a complete game with four hits, four walks and eight strikeouts.
Klampe went 3 for 3 with an RBI and run scored. Barchus went 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
McNary’s four-game week started with a 7-5 loss to Sprague High School Monday, April 28. The following day, McNary outhit McKay High School 13-8, but the Royal Scots plated more runs in a 5-1 win. Only one of the four Celtic runners to make it to third base finished his loop. Walker scored after tagging up on a fly out by Goff in the top of the fifth.
“We were hitting the ball, but we weren’t doing it in a timely way,” Goff said. “We’d get two hits at a time and nobody would score.”
Walker went 3 for 4 at the dish. Tim Hays went 2 for 3 with a double. Barchus pitched a complete game with five runs on eight hits.
The Celtics started out with a four-run bang in a game with South Salem High School Wednesday, April 30. Wood reached first base on a fielding error, Walker reached on an error by the centerfielder, and Barchus flied out but gave Wood time to reach third. Gosling drew a walk to load the bases. Tim Hays plated Wood and Walker on a single and fielding error. A Mistkawi double brought Gosling home for 4-0 lead.
Unfortunately for McNary, South answered with five runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. The Saxons paired that inning with a five-run third and never looked back en route to a 12-7 loss for McNary.
Goff blasted a shot over the left field fence in the seventh.
“I wasn’t hitting very well that day. It was questionable off the bat, but I saw it go over the fence as I rounded first,” Goff said.
Prior to the start of McNary’s week, Head Coach Larry Keeker hoped the team would put some distance between itself and some of the teams lower on the CVC ladder, but three losses only embroiled the team further in the endlessly-fluctuating standings. McNary was tied for second in the league with North Salem after beating South Salem Monday, May 5, but a single game separated the two teams tied for second and the two teams tied for fourth in the league.