Baseball and boys soccer bow out in district playoffs, softball wins big



Blaine baseball had the toughest path through the District 1/2 1A tournament after finishing the regular season third in the Northwest Conference (NWC) 1A standings. Blaine needed a win against Sultan to continue on in the district playoffs, and head coach Hunter Anderson called on his ace pitcher to get the Borderites in.

Senior Kieran Markusen pitched one of his best performances of the season, striking out six batters and allowing just one hit over his first five innings of work. He earned his sixth win of the season, and it couldn’t have come with more pressure, in a win-or-go-home scenario on May 1.

The Blaine offense exploded for six runs in the first three innings, behind solid performances from a few senior sluggers. First baseman Alejandro Moser-Hernandez went 2-4 with two stolen bases and three runs scored, outfielder Jesse Deming had a two-RBI day with a stolen base and run scored, and pitcher Diego Gutierrez knocked in a RBI.

Blaine won 9-2, knocked Sultan out of the tournament, and earned a date against Cedar Park Christian on May 4.

Unfortunately for the Borderites, they ran into a brick wall that was the 15-5 Cedar Park Christian team, specifically its pitching staff. The Borderites were no-hit until the seventh inning when senior second baseman Grady Swinburnson earned the team’s first hit with a single.

Freshman pitcher Josh Cochran struck out five batters in five innings, but the Borderites were shut out and put into the loser’s bracket, losing 6-0. Cedar Park Christian would go on to win its next game and earn a spot in the 1A state tournament.

In Blaine’s second win-or-go-home game of the district tournament, the Borderites faced Overlake/Bear Creek later in the day on May 4, with Markusen back on the mound for another high-pressure pitching appearance.

Markusen again showed why he’s one of the best pitchers in the county, pitching seven scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the eighth. Down 2-0 in extra innings, the Borderites scored one when freshman Aaron Garza scored Moser-Hernandez on a groundout, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win, and the Borderites were bounced from state playoff contention with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss.

The Borderites finished the season 12-10, and will lose nine seniors to graduation: Owen Wenger, Diego Gutierrez, Hunter Vezzetti, Deon Bowman, Mason Akre, Deming, Moser-Hernandez, Markusen and Swinburnson.

Many Borderites were among the conference leaders in pitching and hitting statistics, with Markusen first in the conference in innings pitched (60), and second with a 1.40 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and six wins (Gutierrez finished with five wins, tied for third place).

Moser-Hernandez led the team in most batting stats with a .393 batting average (fourth in NWC), .553 on-base percentage (second in NWC), and a .518 slugging percentage (sixth in NWC). Evan Yates finished third in the conference with a .556 slugging percentage and was tied for the league lead with eight doubles and three triples.

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Boys Soccer

The Blaine boys soccer team just couldn’t ever seem to get over the hump that was the Meridian Trojans this season. The Borderites faced its cross-county rivals twice in the regular season, losing 2-1 and 3-0, and were set to play again in the first round of the 1A District 1 tournament on May 4.

With a win, the Borderites would advance to the district finals for a chance at a state tournament bid. A loss would mean the end of its season.

But once again, painfully, the Blaine defense couldn’t find an answer to Meridian’s high-pressure style of attack, losing 2-1 at Borderite Stadium.

Senior midfielder Leonardo Blanco, as he has done all year, scored on an assist from junior forward Isaiah Zuch for the team’s only goal on the night.

Blanco finished the year with nine goals scored, trailing only senior Blake Koreski (13) for the team lead by season’s end.

The Borderites had, by most measures, a successful regular season, finishing 9-4-2 with a 4-3-1 conference record after multiple starting seniors departed in 2023. With a young defense and just four graduating seniors – Armand Gill, Matthew Hayes, Noah Chilson, and Blanco – this is a team that could make big improvements by next spring.

Unfortunately for the Borderites, they are in a NWC 1A conference with two juggernauts in Meridian (12-4-1) and Lynden Christian (10-4-2). Against all other teams this year, the Borderites went 9-1-1. Against Lynden Christian and Meridian, the Borderites didn’t win a game, going 0-4-1.

If the Blaine boys soccer can conquer those two boogeymen, they could make a run at the state tournament next season.

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The Borderites went supernova against a scuffling Squalicum team on May 7, winning 23-3 and bringing the team to a stellar 13-5 record (11-5 NWC). With just two games left in the regular season schedule, the Borderites currently stand in first place among 1A NWC teams.

If the Borderites can hold its place atop the 1A conference leaderboard, they would earn a first-round bye in the playoffs and face the lowest-seeded team (likely Meridian or Nooksack Valley) on May 16 at Janicki Fields in Sedro-Woolley.

The win was a good bounce-back for Blaine after a 6-1 loss at home against Mount Vernon on May 4.

The batting statistics in a 23-run game are too numerous to count, but Aaliyah Bowman and Millie Berkeley each led the team with four runs scored, and Shaylie Daniels led with a whopping six RBI.

All told, seven different Borderites hit at least one RBI, and 12 players scored.

The Borderites have just two games left in the regular season, with a road game against Lakewood on Thursday, May 9, and Senior Night against Friday Harbor on Friday, May 10 at 4 p.m. at Pipeline Fields.

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