Blaine's Jonathan Starcer slides into second ahead of a bad throw in a game against Nooksack Valley April 7. Photo by Janell Kortlever.
Despite a close loss in their conference-opener against a sharp Nooksack Valley team, Blaine baseball showed signs of improvement.
Errors on defense were kept to a minimum, but the Borderites got their offense up and running too late in the home game against Nooksack Valley April 7. Nooksack’s starting pitcher Noah Rawls pitched a no-hitter until the sixth inning, when the Borderites scored three runs.“To the kids’ credit we fought back, but it’s tough to overcome five innings with no hits. You have to get on base earlier in the game,” said Blaine coach Sean Linville.
Although they weren’t getting hits until the sixth inning, the Borderites were making contact. Rawls had only two strikeouts.“We had a lot of weak contact, but they also had great defense. They made a lot of good plays,” Linville said.
Jonathan Starcer started on the mound for Blaine and pitched four-and-two-thirds innings. In the bottom of the third inning, Nooksack Valley batters strung together five hits for four runs that busted the game open for the Pioneers. Starcer was able to get out of the inning, but the Borderites found themselves in a deep hole.
Jalen Kortlever broke Blaine’s offensive dry spell with a single in the sixth inning. He went on to score as Cody Gobbato and Anthony Ball each singled, and then Chris Doll hit a two-run double to send Gobbato and Ball home. Jared Vogee relieved Starcer in the fifth and sixth innings, and Rudy Nolasco pitched the final inning for Blaine.
“Overall, we played fine. We only had one error. They were able to string hits together and score runs, and we weren’t able to score when we needed to,” Linville said. The loss on the heels of a two-win doubleheader against La Conner April 2 brings Blaine’s overall record to 5–4.
In their non-conference doubleheader with La Conner, the Borderites outscored the Braves 11–2 and 15–1.“It was fun to get two big wins,” Linville said. “The kids got to score a lot of runs and run around the bases, and the pitchers saw plenty of time on the mound. It’s good to have days like that. It’s a good confidence builder,” Linville said.
Josh Fakkema earned the win on the mound in the first game, pitching four-and-a-third innings. Jared Vogee pitched a complete game in the second game, with six strikeouts and two hits.
“We were able to work on some things with our pitchers. La Conner is a smaller school with a good baseball program, and we’re usually in their position going up against bigger schools, so it was nice to change roles,” Linville said.
In the first game, Fakkema hit 2–3 with two runs and three RBI, Doll hit 2–3 with two runs and an RBI, Jalen Kortlever went 2–3 with two runs and a double and Starcer went 2–5 with three runs and two RBI.In the second game, Gobbato hit 2–3 with three runs and an RBI, Fakkema went 1–1 with a run, three RBI and a double, Kaden Foster went 1–3 with a run and an RBI and Ball hit 1–3 with a run and three RBI.
The Borderites have a tough NWC schedule ahead of them. They faced Burlington-Edison, a notorious 2A power, on April 9. Their next game is at home against Lynden Christian on Friday, April 11.
“Lynden Christian will be a good gauge for where we’re at,” Linville said. “I haven’t faced them too much in the past, but their program is comparable to ours. It should be a good game.”
According to Linville, the team has a good attitude heading into conference play. “There are so many little idiosyncrasies to baseball, and our team is right in the middle of getting a grasp on all those. Our kids for the most part are not as seasoned as the teams we’re facing, but they’re a tight-knit group. Their attitude has been good and they’re working hard. I have no doubt we’ll continue to improve.”
The Lynden Christian game begins at 4:30 p.m.