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Pitching could be the key for OC

BASEBALL: Coach Adam Randall hopes effort and desire will translate into success

OREGON CITY - If effort and leadership spell success, then the Oregon City Pioneers, under first-year head coach Adam Randall, will have a successful baseball season this spring.

'We've got a group of guys that play extremely hard,' said Randall. 'They compete. That's probably their best attribute.'

Randall added, 'They are very coachable. We've got very good senior leadership. The seniors have been setting a great example for the younger kids.'

Randall says pitching will be the key to just how successful his Pioneers are this spring in a very competitive Three Rivers League.

'Our season's going to go the way our pitching goes,' said Randall. 'We can drive the baseball and play defense, and we've got two pretty good pitchers. If we can find a couple of more to go with our top two, we'll do okay.'

Oregon City's lack of proven talent on the hill was apparent in the Pioneers' season opener. Starter Jay Kirchhofer threw five innings of one-hit ball to stake the Pioneers to a 2-1 lead over McMinnville. But Kirchhofer ran out of gas and McMinnville rallied to win 8-7.

'Our relief pitcher came in with the bases loaded and hit three guys in a row, and it went downhill from there,' said Randall.

Oregon City fell 10-8 to Tigard in another early season game. The Pioneers had to fight an uphill battle after their starter gave up seven runs in the first 2-2/3 innings.

Oregon City's other top pitcher is basketball standout Brad Tinsley.

Kirchhofer starts at third when he's not pitching; Tinsley starts in the outfield. Both earned honorable mention all-league honors last season for their play in the field.

The Pioneers also return a talented infielder in senior Jake Nelson. A four-year starter, Nelson was a second-team all-league selection on a Pioneer team that went 12-9 and placed fourth in the Three Rivers League in 2006.

And the Pioneers have an experienced player at first base, where senior David Greenstein returns.

Senior Logan Taliaferro and junior Dylan Foley are battling for the starting nod at catcher, while it will be either senior Eric Larson or junior Ryan Zornado at second.

Junior Niko Minor will anchor the outfield as the Pioneers' centerfielder.

Senior Jake Doran and junior Rayce Belmont lead a host of others Randall is considering for varsity action in the outfield.

Randall sees Lake Oswego and West Linn as the teams to beat in the TRL in 2007.

The Pioneers were to meet Lake Oswego in their league opener on Tuesday. They entertain Reynolds in a non-league contest on Thursday.