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Mustangs take their lumps


Sporting one of the youngest lineups in the state, Milwaukie High School’s varsity baseball team has taken its lumps in preseason, losing four of its first six games.

Milwaukie coach Phil Marchant has been going with a starting lineup that includes four sophomores and three freshmen through much of the preseason.

“I like our work ethic,” Marchant said. “And I like the way they are pushing one another. No one is guaranteed a starting spot....

“Compared to last year, I think we have better athletic abilities. We’re just lacking in experience. I anticipate that we’re just going to continue to improve and keep getting better and better as the season goes along.”

Randall Sam, Milwaukie’s top pitcher last year, is the only senior who has been a regular in this year’s starting lineup. Last year he started in the outfield when he wasn’t pitching; this year he’ll start at first base when he isn’t pitching.

Sam, a left-hander, leads a stable of seven pitchers, six of whom are lefties.

Riley Howard and Brad McVay, both freshmen left-handers, have joined Sam as Milwaukie’s top starters this spring. Howard is starting at first, when Sam is on the mound.

Marchant says he also likes what he’s seen in sophomore Gunner Murk as a closer. Murk returns to start at shortstop.

Marchant added, “Our pitching coach, Roy Thomas, has been a big plus to our program. He’s getting amazing responses out of our pitchers.”

The only other Mustang who returns with starting experience from last year is junior Maxx True. He moves from the outfield to start at catcher.

“Maxx is a good athlete,” said Marchant. “He’s still got a lot to learn [about catching], but he’s getting there.”

Among others earning the starting nod in early preseason are: sophomores Matthew Yerman (second base), Aaron Wenger (third base) and Chase Anderson (centerfield); and freshmen McVay (left field) and Cole Roberts (right field).

Marchant says he also likes what he’s seen from sophomore Darrin King (catcher/DH/third base). And he says that seniors Edgar Pantoja-Alvarez and David Ferguson have excelled as leaders by example.

“Edgar is a first-year baseball player, but he’s the hardest worker on the team,” Marchant said.

Marchant says that Roberts, Murk and Sam have had the hot bats in preseason.

The Mustangs picked up wins in two of their first four games, defeating Franklin 6-3 and Hermiston 6-4. Early losses have come at the hands of Aloha (13-0), Redmond (9-0), Kennewick (10-0) and Pendleton (10-1).

The Mustangs rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth in last week’s 6-4 win over Hermiston. Sam (2-for-3), Anderson and Roberts (2-for-3) all had base hits in the pivotal inning. And the Mustangs played near error-free defense behind pitchers Howard, Roberts and Murk.