By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
After loading the bases in each of the first three innings and getting nothing to show for it, McNary desperately needed a big hit and Ty Covalt came through.
With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the fourth, Covalt ripped a double down the left field line to score two runs. The Celtics scored five runs in the inning and held on to defeat Sprague 5-4 on Monday, April 23.
“That just broke the ice for us,” McNary head coach Larry Keeker said.
Covalt hit the double on the 10th pitch of his at bat.
“I knew he wasn’t spotting his curveball so I knew I was going to get a fastball,” Covalt said. “I was just battling until I found something I liked and put a barrel on it and did something cool.”
The Celtics tied the game at 3-3 when Covalt scored on a deep fly ball to center field off the bat of Colin Wentworth that Sprague couldn’t snag.
After Wentworth advanced to third on a wild pitch, Ryan Thompson brought him home with a sacrifice bunt. David Alfaro then added a RBI single to give McNary a 5-3 lead.
McNary senior Carl Rumbaugh went all seven innings to earn the win. He pitched in and out of jams for most of the game, the biggest coming in the top of the sixth when Sprague loaded the bases with no outs but scored just one run on a fielder’s choice.
“That shows his competitive spirit in those situations,” Keeker said of Rumbaugh. “He didn’t look rattled, which is a good sign.”
Rumbaugh said the key was pretending like no one was on base.
“I think it’s a brand new ball game and keep dealing, keep throwing strikes and pounding the zone,” said Rumbaugh, who mixed up his fastball and curveball to strike out four Sprague hitters.
Rumbaugh’s defense didn’t do him any favors, recording six errors.
“We didn’t play good defense today,” Keeker said. “For us to survive this game with six errors and all those guys left on base is quite frankly a little bit incredible. We made our own mess but were some how able to pull this one out. If you look at the numbers you wouldn’t think we’d win this game. Finally, we had something go our way.”
McNary drew nine walks in the game and recorded seven hits.
David Allen was 2-for-3 and scored a run.
Robert Benson made a diving catch in left field to start off the seventh. Rumbaugh got two more fly balls to the outfield to finish off the Olympians.
The loss was just Sprague’s second in league play.
“We needed this. Guys got together and we battled,” Covalt said. “We’re getting a little momentum and confidence that will hopefully carry us throughout the season and we’ll get some more wins here.”
The win evened the series with Sprague, who took game one 5-0 on Friday, April 20.
Jacob Jackson, who was 2-for-3 with a walk, doubled to lead off the game but was stranded at third.
The Celtics then loaded the bases in the top of the third but Noah Bach’s line drive was hit directly to the right fielder, ending the threat.
McNary finished with just four hits in the loss.
“They’re a good team,” Keeker said of Sprague. “They’ve got a solid senior class and a deep pitching staff.”
After losing their first four Greater Valley Conference games, the Celtics have won three of four.
“The message from the coaching staff has simply been we are going to put our heads down and push forward,” Keeker said. “We’re just not going to allow anybody to feel sorry for themselves or quit. We just won’t allow it. We’re not made up that way as coaches. We’re just going to continue to battle and compete and try to help them through those difficult moments that we seem to run into quite often.”