Class 1A/2A baseball — St. Paul goes 0-4 in league games last week; say goodbye to senior

The St. Paul baseball team endured probably its toughest stretch of the season last week, going 0-for-4 in league games. The Buckaroos opened the week by dropping to 0-6 in one-run games after falling 7-6 at Santiam May 12. The team followed with three straight games decided by 10 or more runs, the first time this season St. Paul has lost by double digits in back-to-back PHIL HAWKINS - Special delivery - St. Paul's Austin McClister pitches in relief during the Bucks' 13-3 loss to Regis May 14. St. Paul will close out the season Wednesday at Western Mennonite.

After the loss to Santiam, the Bucks dropped a 13-3 game against Regis on May 14. Jason McCain went 1-for-2 with an RBI in the game, and Austin McClister came in to pitch 2.33 innings of relief, giving up three earned runs while striking out one.

The Bucks finished the week with a 20-3 loss to Waldport on Friday and a 17-1 defeat at Kennedy on Saturday. Vela said the large margins of victory obscure the details surrounding each loss, particularly in the game against Kennedy where the Bucks gave up seven runs in the second inning and nine runs in the third inning.

“When you look at a big score like that, it’s easy to think we have a huge problem. And we don’t,” he said.

The majority of the runs given up against Kennedy came on missed fielding opportunities, as the Trojans peppered the infield with ground balls or short bloopers in the outfield. The Bucks had several chances to pick up outs, but fielding and throwing errors allowed Kennedy to turn outs and singles into extra bases, said Vela.

“If you give a good team four outs they’re going to hurt you,” he said. “If you give a team seven outs, they’re going to kill you, and that’s what happened.”

Cody Faber went 1-of-2 with one RBI in the game and came in to pitch in relief, where he gave up two hits and kept the Trojans scoreless for the final 1.67 innings.

The team talked about the individual innings on the bus ride home and where they could improve. After taking a day off of practice Monday, the Bucks will be ready to finish the season on a flourish when they travel to Western Mennonite Wednesday.

The game against the Pioneers will be the final one for the team’s lone senior, Max Coleman.

“The energy that he brings to the game, you can feel it,” said Vela. “You can feel it when he’s there and we’ll miss that.”

Coleman has played a variety of roles with the Bucks in his four years with the team, moving from his primary position at catcher to anywhere Vela needed to plug him in due to his knowledge of the game.

During his senior season, Vela made the difficult decision to remove Coleman from fielding and use him primarily as a designated hitter. With the Bucks out of contention for a playoff position, Vela felt it was necessary to give some of his younger players experience in the field.

Coleman’s response?

“He said, ‘Coach, I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do to be helpful,’” Vela said. “That’s not lip service. That’s Max. If I had 14 guys with that mentality, it would be a different ball game for me.”

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