By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The pendulum swung in favor and against the McNary High School varsity baseball team in a four-game week that saw the team pick up two wins and two losses.
The team started out with an “important” 3-2 win over Sprague High School, said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach.
“Sprague is one of those teams hovering around the same area as us in the standing so it was nice to take that win on a solo home run by Ty Wyatt,” he said.
“We played well enough to win the game, but we didn’t really hit the ball well until the McKay game,” added Garren Robinett, a McNary junior.
The Celts scored 18 runs on 15 hits en route to a 18-6 victory over the Royal Scots. Robinett went four for four with four RBIs and Wyatt chalked up three hits and a RBI in the game.
On the mound, Keeker credited Ryan Herberger with a stellar outing.
“He came in and did a fantastic job,” Keeker said.
The team faltered the next day in a 13-3 loss to league-leading North Salem High School. The Celts struggled to ignite their sticks in the seven-hit outing highlighted by a Robinett home run.
While the loss to the league-leading Saxons was one the team could stomach, it was the team’s 7-1 loss to West Salem that came as a punch to the gut.
“We did not play to our potential in that game after a week when I thought we were getting better as a team,” Robinett said. While the game started strong for both teams, a fourth-inning lapse set the table for a loss.
“Justin Burgess did exactly what we wanted him to do as a starter, got through three innings, then we put Spencer [Rice] in the game with one runner on in the fourth and our defense let us down and South got four runs on us,” Keeker said.
Coupled with struggles at the plate that led to a one-hit outing, most on the team were disappointed with their performance.
“We need to have a better approach when we go up to the dish,” Wyatt said. “We need to know what pitches we’re looking for. West’s pitcher really found the flaw in our approach and had us swinging at more balls than fastballs.”
The lesson Keeker hopes the team takes from the experience is the importance of defense.
“We have to put a few more runs on the board and we have to defend well. If we don’t defend well we have problems,” he said.
The team still needs to send a message early in every game, Robinett said.
“We need to focus in practice and in the first couple of innings of every game. We need to send the other teams know that we’re gonna bring it every day,” he said.