Close losses plague McNary’s season

Logan Ready delivers a pitch in the top of the third inning Thursday, April 14, against Central Catholic. Ready struck out eight Rams in 7.2 innings pitched. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)

Close, but no cigar. 

There might not be a better way to sum up McNary baseball’s 2022 season game to game. 

The Celtics had six one-run losses on the season, three in conference games.

In total, McNary had 12 losses by three or fewer runs, including a span of five games in a row from April 5-21.  Those five games included the start of league play, a 5-2 home loss to Sprague High School.

McNary went 1-6 in the Mountain Valley Conference in games decided by three or fewer runs, 5-12 overall. And in a season where they narrowly missed the postseason, those close losses may have made all the difference for the Celtics.

The Celtics had a number of games in which they outhit their opponents, but couldn’t get runs across when it mattered. 

Mounting close losses like that could turn a team’s energy and mentality negative, but McNary Athletic Director Scott Gragg didn’t see that.

“Coach Keeker continued to coach about leadership, our kids continued to compete all season,” Gragg said. “There wasn’t a time that I thought this group had hung it up.”

Despite the lack of success on the field, McNary still had seven players named to first or second team all-conference. 

Sophomore Trevor Ratliff and junior Cooper Cripe made the first team. Ratliff finished the season with only one error, while Cripe had a .429 batting average and 11 RBIs. 

Three seniors received second team honors. Hayden Kaiser, Eben Meyer and Gunner Smedema all received nods in their final seasons with McNary. Jake Allen and Jordan Araiza, a sophomore and freshman respectively, joined the three seniors on the second team. 

And at this level, wins and losses aren’t the only metric of success for a program. And Gragg believes that even the lessons from a season like this can help the players in life.

“It might not be a better result to this season, but it might be handling adversity when you lose your first job,” Gragg said.