McCoy likes what he sees in a youthful Pioneer lineup

OREGON CITY - If Oregon City High School first-year head baseball coach Brian McCoy has anything to say about it, the Pioneers will be competitive in this his first year at the helm.

A 1997 graduate of Oregon City High School, McCoy had plenty of success when he was a Pioneer.

The Pioneers' ace on the hill in 1996 and 1997, McCoy was a perfect 22-0 on the mound his junior and senior years.

His junior year, the Pioneers advanced to the state final for only the second time in school history, where they dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Mazama. His senior season, Oregon City lost to 1997 state champion Madison 1-0 in the semifinals. McCoy pitched in state playoff wins over Central Catholic, Sheldon and Beaverton that year, throwing 21 innings in seven days.

McCoy's record was 13-0 his senior year, and he was selected first-team all-state and Oregon big-school 'pitcher of the year.'

After high school, McCoy played baseball at Central College of Kansas and Linfield, before finishing up his education at Portland State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in the social sciences.

He coached Oregon City freshmen with Tim Richardson in 1999 and he assisted at Tualatin in 2005.

For the last several years, he coached three daughters in soccer, softball and T-ball. He's got a 5-year-old son, Isaac, who will begin T-Ball this year.

'It was good timing [when the head coaching job at Oregon City] opened up last fall,' said McCoy. 'We were living in Aurora and we had just decided to move back to Oregon City. [The Oregon City job] fit with my job and my schedule. It's a dream job for me. I always wanted to come back to Oregon City to coach, but I never anticipated having it open up at the right time.'

McCoy got a look at some of his players in open gyms in December, and he says he liked what he saw.

'I like their heart and the way they compete,' McCoy said. 'We've got a lot of young talent, and they never quit. They just go out and get the job done.'

McCoy said of his goals while heading up the program at Oregon City, 'Short-term, to get these guys familiar with my style of coaching and work on the little things.

'Long-term, to win a state championship. That will be the ultimate goal every year. A want to build a program with a championship focus, from the youth program on up - a program that emphasizes academics, citizenship, and baseball.'

McCoy said his coaching style differs from other recent coaches. 'I'm low-key,' he said. 'Quiet, but extremely intense.'

McCoy will have a lot of youth in his lineup this spring. In games played March 23 with Liberty and March 24 with Centennial, centerfielder Ryan Erickson was the Pioneers' only senior starter.

Senior Michael Stuck, who will normally start at catcher, is out with a knee injury, and isn't expected back until mid-April.

The Pioneers have also been without junior Luke Morris, who has earned the starting nod at first base. Morris took a bad hop to his nose at a tournament in Tigard.

Sophomore Mason Kloer has been starting in Stuck's place; junior Evan McCausland has been starting at first.

Other underclassmen that McCoy has given the starting nod are: juniors Marc Morris (second base), Lois Wolf (shortstop), Jon Reece (third base) and Brad Martin (right field), and sophomore Cary Swalwell (left field).

McCoy says that McCausland and sophomores Dustin LaGrange and Rilyn Lewchuk will likely see their share of action at DH.

McCoy says his top pitchers are Martin, Marc Morris and sophomore Josh Hill, in that order.

'Brad has great control of four pitches,' McCoy said. 'Marc has a decent fastball, as well as a change and curve, and he's got good control.'

The Pioneers have been competitive in preseason, defeating Liberty 14-13 and Centennial 5-1, battling Newberg to a 1-1 tie in a nine-inning game, and losing to Tigard (12-10), Central Catholic (14-6) and Grant (12-7).

Led by Martin (3-for-5, triple, double, 4 RBI), Marc Morris (3-for-5, 2 doubles) and Erickson (3-for-4, triple, 2 doubles), the Pioneers hammered out 18 hits in the 14-13 win over Liberty.

Oregon City won that game with two down in the bottom of the seventh. Lewchuk tripled to the right-center gap, and La Grange brought him across with a line drive down the right-field line.

Lewchuk was sharp on the mound in the 5-1 win over Centennial, going the distance and only throwing 82 pitches. He allowed just three hits and no earned runs, while striking out two and walking no one.

'There were a lot of popups,' McCoy said. 'His change was working, he had some movement and he was hitting his spots like crazy. Great control, living on the black on both sides of the plate.'

The Pioneers took charge of Centennial early, scoring three runs in the first inning on a double by Reece (2-for-3), a two-run single by Morris, and an error.

Marc Morris starred with his bat in the Grant game, going 4-for-4, with a double and three RBI; Reece (2-for-4) rapped a two-out triple in the losing effort. The Pioneers reached Grant pitchers for 11 hits.

The Pioneers committed just one error in the nine-inning tie game with Newberg. Martin and Marc Morris pitched, striking out seven and scattering six hits.

Marc Morris (2-for-4, 2 doubles, 3 RBI) and Reece (2-for-3) headed a 12-hit attack in the sixth-inning, time limit game with Tigard.

McCoy has retained Justin Bugni and Garrett Gibson as coaches in his jayvee program, and Tim Richardson, Tyson Lowther and Rick Elyea as freshmen coaches.

He's added Todd Herbst and Chris Dutton as varsity assistants.

McCoy said he expects the Three Rivers League to be competitive from top to bottom.

He is especially looking forward to the Pioneers' games with Canby.

'It's quite a coincidence, but Scott Ackerman was hired as head coach at Canby this year,' said McCoy. 'Scott has been one of my best friends, since we were little. We played together and we graduated together.'

Ackerman caught for the Pioneers in 1996 and 1997, and was named Oregon 'player of the year' as a senior.

In upcoming games, the Pioneers entertain Jesuit at 5 p.m. this Thursday; they play at West Salem next Monday and they host Southridge on Thursday, April 7.

TRL play begins April 11, when the Pioneers begin a three-game series with cross-river rival West Linn, at West Linn.

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