McNary pitcher David Allen delivers to the plate (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings)
Over spring break, the McNary baseball team got the opportunity to play in a tournament down in Goodyear, AZ. — coincidently, the Celtics only ended up matching up with teams from Colorado.
Despite facing some talented squads, McNary was able to salvage a 2-2 record in the tournament.
“There was a lot to like, but there’s also a lot to learn,” McNary head coach Larry Keeker said. “We saw a lot of good things in terms of our hitting, pitching and defense, but there were also a lot of mistakes that showed up along the way that we need to learn from moving forward.”
“The teams we played were pretty talented to be honest, and all four games were very competitive. We could have easily gone 0-4, but we also could have gone 4-0.”
This trip, however, was more than just about playing baseball. It ended up being a time of camaraderie for this McNary group as they went to spring training games, had a bowling night and worked together on team building activities.
“It was really good for us to get away and do some things outside of baseball itself,” Keeker said.
Game 1: Chatfield 8 McNary 5 (Monday, March, 25).
While the Celtics outhit their opponent in their first game, the couldn’t overcome committing four errors in the field in their 8-5 loss to Chatfield.
“Most of the defensive mistakes we’re making are physical mistakes,” Keeker said. “It’s about making sure we make the little details a priority when we come to practice.”
Robert Benson led the way for McNary with a pair of doubles and an RBI in this one.
The Celtics got out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by senior catcher. Ty Covalt.
McNary continued to build on their lead in the bottom of the third. With one out in the frame and runners on third and first, the Celtics pulled off a double steal as David Allen was able to swipe second and force a throw from the catcher, which allowed Benson to score from third.
Moments later, Covalt added another RBI-hit to put McNary up 4-0.
The advantage increased to 5-0 in the fourth inning as Benson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out.
But with a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach, McNary couldn’t push any more runs across, which proved to be costly.
McNary pitcher Rennick Jeffries was solid on the hill in his first four innings of work, giving up just one hit and no runs. But in the top of the fifth, it all fell apart for the Celtics, as Chatfield scored five runs on two hits to tie the game in the fifth — Jeffries was taken out with one out in the frame.
Chatfield scored one run in the sixth and two runs in the seventh to seal the win.
Game 2: McNary 4 Wheat Ridge 3 (Wednesday, March 27).
A fantastic pitching performance from Devon Bedoya helped put the Celtics over the edge in their second game of the tournament.
The senior right-hander went 5.1 innings and only gave up four hits and one runin the 4-3 victory.
After giving up an RBI-triple in the first inning, Bedoya didn’t let a runner get past second base for the remainder of his outing.
Wheat Ridge had a threat going in the top of the sixth after Bedoya surrendered a pair of one-out walks.
But Benson, who came in to replace Bedoya on the mound, retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning.
The McNary offense didn’t have much to offer in the first three innings, but they broke out of their shell in the bottom of the fourth.
Back-to-back extra-base hits by Covalt and Jacob Jackson allowed the Celtics to tie the game at 1-1. Moments later, a sacrifice fly to center field by Jamison Martin put McNary on top 2-1.
Pushing across two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth proved to be crucial for McNary. Covalt and Noah Bach started the frame with back-to-back singles, which was followed by Martin bunting them into scoring position.
Pinch-hitter Ian Martin’s sacrifice fly to right field brought in Covalt from third, which was soon followed by Bach scoring on a wild pitch to give the Celtics a 4-1 lead.
Keeker brought in one of his best arms in Allen to close out the top of the seventh.
Allen struggled with location during the inning and even gave up two runs and loaded the bases, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. But the senior ended the game with a big strikeout to get the save.
“Even though David got roughed up a little bit, he was sharp with his fastball,” Keeker said.
Game 3: McNary 8 Arapahoe 6 (Thursday, March 28).
Similar to their first game of the tournament, McNary got out to a big lead to start things out. But this time, they were able to hold on for the win.
Jackson went 2-for-4 with four RBIs to lead the Celtics to the 8-6 victory.
Jackson started his day off with a two-run single in the bottom of the first and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Celtics the 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, Jackson socked a two-run triple to center field to extend McNary’s lead to 5-0.
Arapahoe got two runs back in the top of the third, but an RBI-triple by Nigel Harris brought the score to 6-2.
But two costly errors by the Celtics in the top of the fifth allowed Arapahoe to tie the game at 6-6.
Arapahoe had a pair of defensive miscues of their own in the bottom of the fifth to allow the Celtics to retake the lead 8-6.
Despite giving up six unearned runs in 5.1 innings of work, McNary starting pitcher Daniel Okada still was able to pick up his first win of the season.
Junior Alex Simpson pitched 1.2 innings of relief and allowed only one baserunner to close out the contest for the Celtics.
“There was a lot to like about our offense. We had guys up and down the order that were contributing in one way or another,” Keeker said.
Game 4: Monarch 8 McNary 6 (Friday, March 29).
After a back-and-forth game, the Celtics couldn’t contain the Monarch offense as McNary lost their final game of the tournament 8-6.
Both squads scored one run in the second and two in the third, but Monarch began to separate themselves with three runs in the top of the fourth.
However, the Celtics came back with a response in the bottom of the fifth.
A sacrifice fly by Covalt helped the Celtics get within two. Then, two-out singles by Jamison Martin and Allen, plus a walk from Harris, loaded up the bases.
Bach followed with a two-run single to left field, tying the game at 6-6.
However, the Celtics surrendered a pair of runs in the top of the sixth as Monarch regained the lead.