By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary’s baseball team (13-11, 10-6) will face a familiar opponent in the first round of the state playoffs when the 16-seeded Celtics host No. 17 Tualatin (13-10, 12-5) on Monday, May 22 at 5 p.m.
The two squads met on April 29 with McNary winning 13-7.
But Celtics head coach Larry Keeker isn’t taking too much away from that victory.
“We’d just got off a three-game week and so did they,” Keeker said.
“I’m a 100 percent sure neither team saw the No. 1 pitcher from either side. We have at least some data on their hitters, which is helpful. We have that to go by. Of course they have it as well. We know we’re not going to see the same pitcher, at least we wouldn’t expect it.”
Tualatin finished third in the Three Rivers League behind two top 10 teams in the state—No. 9 Tigard and No. 1 West Linn.
“They took West Linn right to the wire three times in a row so they’re certainly capable,” Keeker said.
“Regardless of who we’re playing, we feel like we can compete with pretty much anybody. We’re certainly not afraid of anybody.”
McNary senior Josiah Gilbert will get the start on the mound against Tualatin. But Riley Hays, Kyle McCallister and the rest of the Celtic pitchers will be ready if needed.
“He’s (Gilbert) the guy that deserves to be on the hill so he’s going to get the ball first,” Keeker said. “There’s no tomorrow. If we have to make a change somewhere in the game than we will. It’s not like we’re going to save somebody for game two because we have to win game one just to get to game two.”
McNary swept McKay 6-1, 12-2 on May 10 and 12 to finish fifth in the Greater Valley Conference.
On senior night, Hays won the first game, allowing just three hits and one run over seven innings.
McCallister and Carl Rumbaugh combined to shut down McKay in the second game.
The Celtics combined for 23 hits over the two games.
Matthew Ismay was 6-for-8 in the series with four runs and three RBIs.
Brendan Frizelle was 4-for-8 with four runs and three RBIs.
“It was good for us to score some runs,” Keeker said. “It allowed our pitchers to relax and throw strikes.”
McNary finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak.
“You want to be hot,” Keeker said. “And the losses prior to those wins were tight losses. We feel that we’ve done a pretty good job at the plate lately and guys are being productive up and down the lineup. We’re by no means satisfied.”