By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary needed to play a clean, mistake-free seven innings to upset No. 1 West Linn.
With two critical errors in the bottom of the fourth, the Celtics came up short, falling 10-1 on Wednesday, May 24 in the second round of the 6A baseball state playoffs.
McNary trailed just 2-1 after Jonah Geist singled and scored on a Tyler Covalt sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the fourth.
On the mound, Riley Hays got two outs with a runner at second in the bottom of the fourth.
But after an intentional walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases, a single and two infield errors then led to four West Linn runs.
“Against a really good team our margin for error in that game is just so small,” McNary head coach Larry Keeker said. “We have to make those type of plays to win that type of game. That’s really what it comes down to or at least give us a chance to win.”
The Celtics also had a difficult time adjusting to West Linn’s turf field.
“The turf is extremely fast so I think we had some problems adjusting to the speed of the ball on the turf,” Keeker said.
“Balls that would get by us in the gaps to the fence would normally probably be cut off for a single and they’d turn into a triple. You just have to make adjustments and we knew that was the case. But until it actually happens to you live, you don’t understand. It’s super fast. The balls just fly on it.”
At the plate, McNary had just three hits against Tim Tawa, who has committed to Stanford University.
Geist was 1-for-3. Jacob Jackson and Joshua Benson were both 1-for-2.
Caleb Kiefiuk-Yates added a pinch-hit double off of a relief pitcher in the seventh.
“Their pitcher (Tawa) was really good,” Keeker said.
“His fastball, he could basically throw it wherever he wanted to so he did a really good job of throwing his fastball on the corners. The umpire was generous not only on the corners but when the ball was down. I think his strike zone was a little bit lower than typical. That wasn’t the difference but it makes him really tough to deal with. He’s tough already.”
West Linn has won 20 games in a row after defeating Gresham 8-1 Friday, May 26 in the state quarterfinals.
The Lions then defeated Beaverton 3-1 Tuesday, May 30 in the semifinals. They’ll play Clackamas Saturday, June 3 at Volcanoes Stadium.
“They are certainly deserving of that No. 1 seed,” Keeker said.
The game was the final one for McNary’s 10 seniors.
“I’m extremely proud of the senior class,” Keeker said. “One of the indicators to me was at the end of the game how emotional a lot of the senior were that they knew it was finally came to and end and the time they invested in the last four years in the McNary baseball program was certainly something they felt strongly about.
“A lot of these guys have been together for a long time so it was emotional for them. I was extremely proud of their efforts throughout the year. They were good teammates. They were good leaders. They have no regrets as far as I can see.”