By Oliver Lazenby
At the beginning of the season, varsity Borderites baseball head coach Larry Hoffman knew his team had solid pitching and defense. If they could score some runs they’d be a contender, he believed.
Instead, the team has done well despite struggling to score runs for most of the season. They made it to the 2A district tournament for the first time since 2011 and beat the top-seeded team in a huge upset.
Ten times in the regular season games, the Borderites scored two or less runs. They carried that pattern into the district tournament this week, where they beat Burlington–Edison 2–1 but then lost to Cedarcrest 4–1 on May 10.
Senior pitcher Jon Starcer led the Borderites in their upset victory against Burlington–Edison, a team with a 11–1 record in regular season conference games. Starcer pitched the whole game, held the Tigers to four hits, struck out six and walked five.
Burlington-Edison’s pitcher also turned in a strong performance, but Blaine capitalized on the four errors Burlington-Edison made. Blaine scored one run on an error and freshman Colby Knutzen drove in the other. Blaine made just one error.
“It was a pretty gutty performance by all our kids but especially by Jon,” Hoffman said.
Blaine barely qualified for the district tournament as the lowest seeded team.
“Going into a game like that where we’re the eighth seed, there’s no pressure on us and there’s a lot of pressure on them,” Hoffman said. He noted that the Borderites defense didn’t fold to pressure when Burlington-Edison had runners on base.
The same could be said about the team’s May 10 loss to Cedarcrest, a team that’s strong offensively.
Though Cedarcrest scored four runs in the first four innings, they left runners on base for three of those innings. Blaine’s defense didn’t bend under pressure and ended the first inning with a double play and starting pitcher Jon Gunderson threw several strikeouts with runners in scoring position.
Freshman Cruz Rodriguez drove in Blaine’s only run with a double to left field in the fifth inning.
The Borderites will play Anacortes at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 16, at Daniels Field in Anacortes. If they win that game they will play again later that day in a contest for third place in the district tournament. The winner of the third place game qualifies for the state tournament.