Kelso first baseman Max McDaniel can’t remember a season with so many outdoor practices before the first game.
He counted seven outings outside the batting cages, a seldom reached number for Washington state baseball teams.
“Being on the field this early in the year is not something we’ve been able to do,” Kelso coach Tom D’Aboy said. “It’s really good to get out here and see the things we need to work on.”
The first game for the Scotties went as well as the weather has treated them, as Kelso ran past R.A. Long 7-4 on Monday at the Lumberyard underneath clear skies and a light breeze.
McDaniel went 2-3, including scoring the game’s first run after reaching base on a bloop single over the pitcher’s head. Kalama transfer Colby Rader, who went 1-4, drove McDaniel in with a lined double to left field. That tied the game at 1-1 in the second, and it was all Kelso from there.
“We have a lot of things to clean up, obviously,” McDaniel said. “But it’s the start of our season, and we’ll get better as it goes on.”
The Scotties capitalized on early-season mistakes from R.A. Long to score three runs in the second inning and added a pair in the fourth and fifth innings. Trey Hartley shut the Jacks down after relieving Cole Farley, who threw three innings of three-hit ball, in the fourth with Kelso up 3-2.
Hartley went four innings, striking out four and allowing just one earned run.
“We don’t have the overpowering arms we’ve had in the past,” D’Aboy said. “The balls are going to be put in play. I was really happy with Cole — he’s done a nice job getting prepared for the season — as has Trey Hartley. I was happy with both of them on the mound for sure.”
Ben Bergonzine went 1-2 with a pair of RBI and Farley added an RBI groundout as the Scotties scattered 10 hits.
“An ugly win is better than any loss,” D’Aboy said. “We’re very senior-heavy. It’s all mental, getting locked in mentally.”
R.A. Long, which drops to 1-1, put one across in the opening inning taking advantage of some sloppy fielding by the Scots. They also scored one in the third, the sixth and the seventh.
Jack Childers went 3-4 with three RBI and Elias Farland finished 2-2. Tyler Reece also added an RBI on a groundout in the sixth. R.A. Long tallied six hits, but helped Kelso out of a jam in the third inning as an infield fly left Jacks’ runners confused.
“Just early-season stuff,” RAL coach Mark Hulings said. “Things we can clean up and fix, which we will. Communication things and just knowing situational baseball. That just comes with experience. I’m not freaking over it; I think we’ll be fine.”
Alex Brady, Conner Wallace, Wyatt Keith and Elias Farland all spent time on the mound.
“I thought we threw well,” Hulings said. “There’s a couple opportunities where we did get too many fastball counts in situations where they were able to stay green-heavy and find barrel. We want to work backward, keep them off balance and command the inside of the plate better.”