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Celtic baseball avoids play-in for first time

McNary's Connor Suing takes a cut in the Celtics game with Sprague High School Friday, May 16. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary’s Connor Suing takes a cut in the Celtics game with Sprague High School Friday, May 16. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School varsity baseball team won two of it’s final three games to avoid a play-in game for state tournament that begins Monday, May 26.

The Celtics finished third in the Central Valley Conference with a record of 8-7 and 12-13 overall. It’s the first time since the play-in structure was instituted by the OSAA that the Celts will make it to the playoffs without a play-in game.

“It just feels good, and I feel like we all worked really hard to get here,” said senior Travis Klampe.

McNary planned to play Madison High School in a non-league contest at home Thursday, May 22, past press time. Madison won its league, but McNary’s biggest challenge in the coming weeks will be winning on the road.

“It’s a different atmosphere with the energy created by the music from the press box and the position of the bleachers,” said Larry Keeker, McNary head coach. “Other coaches say it’s hard to play here, but we struggle in unfamiliar surroundings.”

With more than a week of downtime, Keeker said the team would be focusing on fundamentals.

“It’s a matter of revisiting all the defensive fundamentals and all the little things that we want to make sure we continue to do, our picks, first-and-thirds relays, all of it,” he said.

Klampe said a valiant effort on the part of the team would be success enough.

“I want to see us keep doing our best, and keep trying until the end of the season,” he said.

Last week, the Celtics took wins over McKay and Sprague High School while falling to the league’s second-place team, North Salem High School.

On Friday, May 16, the boys pieced together a 4-1 win over Sprague behind Klampe’s full-game effort on the bump. Klampe struck out six batters and allowed five hits.

McNary was first on the board after Hayden Gosling made it to first on a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on a Connor Goff single.

After the Olys notched their single run in the top of the fourth, Klampe had bases loaded with two outs when he struck out Sprague’s Coleman Crocker to end the inning.

“I just tried to stay calm when I had three guys on  and tried to throw either a ground ball or strikes,” Klampe said.

A Gosling double to right field scored Jordan Barchus in the bottom of the fourth to give the Keizer team a 2-1 lead. Another double by Gosling scored Barchus in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Gosling scored on a groundout by Tristin Mistkawi for the 4-1 final.

Gosling ended the day 2 for 2 with two doubles, two runs, two RBIs and a walk. Barchus went 2 for 3 with two doubles and two runs scored.

McNary never found its offensive legs in an 8-0 loss to North Salem High School Thursday, May 15.

North had a 4-0 lead after the first inning and scored two runs in the second and fourth for the 8-0 final.

The Celts left three runners stranded on third base. Barchus went 2 for 3 and led the Celts at the plate. Jacob Wood notched a double.

The Celts had a 3-0 lead before storming the field in the bottom of sixth inning during a game with McKay High School Tuesday, May 13.

In the sixth, Gosling got things started with a double and scored on a single by Mistkawi. Mistkawi scored on a sacrifice fly by Wood. With Klampe on first, Matt Aguilar on second and Mickey Walker on first, Barchus stepped into the box and blasted a shot, arguably, over the right field fence that bounced back into play.

Umpires deemed it a ground rule double and later called Barchus out on appeal, but runs notched by Klampe and Aguilar stood for the 7-0 final.