Starcer pitches a gem for win at Nooksack

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By Ian Ferguson

The Blaine baseball team had a busy weekend on the road, defeating Highline in Seattle and Cascade in Leavenworth before splitting outcomes in two Northwest Conference (NWC) games.

The most recent game at Nooksack Valley March 31 began as a dual of aces, with Blaine’s John Starcer on the mound against Nooksack Valley’s Noah Rawls. The first run came in the third inning, when Blaine used smart execution to advance Starcer home after he hit a double. Jalen Kortlever put down a perfect sacrifice bunt, and then Jared Vogee hit a ground ball to the middle infield to get the RBI.

“It was a prime example of a manufactured run,” said Blaine head coach Larry Hoffman.

Nooksack Valley responded with two runs in the fifth inning to take the lead, and in the sixth inning Rawls left the game with an arm injury. Blaine batters took advantage of having a reliever on the mound who wasn’t expected to pitch, and the Borderites scored three runs in the
sixth inning.

In the seventh, Blaine scored two and Nooksack Valley scored one, for a final score of 6–4. Starcer hit 2–4 with a double, Rudy Nolasco hit 2–3 with two RBI and Josh Fakkema hit 1–3 with a RBI.

Anthony Ball relieved Starcer in the seventh inning, pitching three strikeouts in between a walk and two hits. In his six innings pitched, Starcer threw seven strikeouts and five walks. Hoffman was complimentary of Starcer’s performance on
the mound.

“He threw about 100 pitches in six innings, which is about the most I’ll allow our pitchers to throw in a game. He did a great job getting himself out of some tricky situations,” Hoffman said. Starcer is 3–0 this year.

Prior to the Nooksack valley game, Blaine put forth a strong effort at home against Squalicum March 30, but couldn’t recover from a fifth inning onslaught froma tough NWC opponent.

The score was tied at zero through four innings, with Cody Gobbato throwing strikes on the mound for Blaine. In the fifth inning, Squalicum batters found their groove and got three hits, and Gobbato tried to find the edges of the strike zone but ended up walking three more batters before the Borderites got out of the inning down by five runs.

Nolasco knocked Kortlever and Vogee in for a two-run single, and Squalicum was able to tack on two more runs for a final score of 7–2.

“Overall Cody (Gobbato) was really good,” Hoffman said. “He’s a senior and we expect a lot out of him. He delivered except for in that fifth inning, and to be fair our defense didn’t help him out too much in that inning. But Squalicum is a pretty tough team and the kids battled hard. For us to be 0–0 going into the fifth inning, we felt pretty good about that,” Hoffman said.

The 500-mile roadtrip to play Highline in Seattle and Cascade in Leavenworth was fun for the team, Hoffman said, especially the Highline game, which was played under the lights. Ball pitched the entire game with seven strikeouts, four hits and four walks. The final score of the non-conference, March 27 game was 6–2 Blaine.

“Anytime we can take a bunch of kids from Blaine, go down to the big city and beat a big 2A school under the lights, that’s a fun game,” Hoffman said.

Nolasco pitched the Cascade game March 28, with Eric Davis pitching the final two innings. Blaine hit its season high on offense: Starcer hit 4–5 with three RBI, Vogee hit 1–4 with three RBI, Kortlever hit 1–4 with two RBI and Armando Moser hit 1–2 with a RBI.

“Almost everyone on the team get a hit,” Hoffman said.

After an overall productive stretch early in the season, Hoffman said he’s optimistic about the team’s direction as it looks to carry momentum forward.

“It’s nice to win league games. In the last two years, we had only won one league game, and we’re 2–1 in league right now.

“The kids are working hard, and it’s showing up in games and paying off,” Hoffman said.

Blaine’s next game is at home versus White River on Saturday, April 4. The game begins at noon.

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