Blaine head baseball coach Gary Clausen has witnessed a stomach-churning number of one-run games for his Borderites this season, many of which had gone the wrong way for his team.
Still more difficult was watching Blaine fall behind Anacortes 3-0 after three innings, claw back into a tie, then lose the lead in the top of the seventh inning.
“We’ve been just this close,” said Clausen, holding two fingers almost together. The Borderites may have finally broken that cycle.
Todd Freeman laced a sharp single, scoring Cody Nagle from second base in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Blaine a spine-tingling 5-4 Northwest Conference (NWC) victory over Anacortes on Wednesday, April 12, at Pipeline Fields. Freeman's hit culminated three perfectly executed at bats that sent the Borderites to victory.
After holding the Seahawks scoreless in the top of the eighth inning, relief pitcher Cody Nagle led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center. The task was to get Nagle to second, which junior Luke Feenstra did with a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base side, advancing Nagle.
“All year we have struggled with converting key opportunities,” Clausen said. “Feenstra had a big game. That bunt was great.”
With Nagle in scoring position, Freeman's deep single to center was more than enough to score him for the win.
While Freeman had the heroics and Feenstra did the dirty work, it was Nagle who was the star of the game. Coming in to relieve Blaine starter Todd Bird, Nagle held Anacortes to no runs as the Seahawks seventh inning run was the product of two Borderite errors.
Nagle also dominated Anacortes at the plate, just missing hitting for the cycle, going 3-4 including a solo home run that got Blaine on the board in the fourth inning.
The Borderites found the going a little tougher as they visited Mount Vernon, Friday, April 15. The Bulldogs' Jered Knapp hammered a grand slam home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to break open a one-run game and lead Mount Vernon to a 9-4 NWC win over Blaine.
Down 4-0 after two innings, the Borderites rallied for three runs in the top of the third led by a Todd Bird home run. Nate Trueblood, nursing a cut on a finger of his pitching hand, took the loss for Blaine to fall to 1-3.
The Borderites were in familiar territory on the final at bat against Lynden in an NWC game, Monday, April 18, at Pipeline Fields. Freeman was at bat with the final out and Blaine trailing 1-0 as they had all game.
In what can be only called the most surreal finish of the season, Blaine had two outs and two on when Freeman struck out for the final out.
It was a passed ball, and as the catcher scrambled to get the ball, Freeman took off for first. The catcher over threw the first baseman and the runners advanced, but Feenstra overran second and found Nagle still at third, so he scrambled back to second base.
The throw to second base to get Feenstra out was in time but booted, and because the outfielder backing up the play was backing up third, the ball flew into right center field. Nagle scored to tie the game and Feenstra beat out the throw by two steps to win the game for Blaine 2-1.
The thrilling finish salvaged a sparkling pitching performance by Sean Allen. Though Allen struggled with his control early, surrendering a run and four walks, he seemed to settle down and started to mix a sweeping curve ball that began to test the Lynden hitters patience.
In the end, Allen worked six innings and gave up only 3 hits and 1 earned run for a no-decision. Parker Wallace came on in relief of Allen, working a 1-2-3 seventh inning to pick up his first win of the season and go 1-1 on the year.
The win leaves Blaine 5-7, 3-4 in the NWC but, more importantly 3-2, in 2A play.