Photos and story by Oliver Lazenby
Blaine pitcher Colby Knutzen threw a complete game and propelled Blaine to a 3–1 win over Bellingham on Tuesday, April 17 at Pipeline Fields. The Borderites have won six out of the seven league games they’ve played in April, boosting their record to 6–3 in conference games and 9–7 overall.
Knutzen threw just 75 pitches in seven innings. Nick Gunderson, Mikael Elliot and Kai Nagle hit RBIs for Blaine.
“Bellingham got us last year so this year I really wanted to get them back,” Knutzen said after the game.
Tuesday’s pitching duel between Knutzen and Bellingham’s Ethan Bershauer was a departure for Blaine – the Borderites averaged 7.57 runs per game in the prior seven showings.
That productive hitting allowed Blaine to make a major turnaround after starting the month with a 2–5 overall record.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Knutzen said. “I think we’re pretty complete – we don’t have many holes on our team.”
Knutzen, a junior, is a factor in that turnaround. He came off the bench on April 4 after missing the beginning of the season because of a broken finger, adding another solid pitcher and contact hitter to Blaine’s lineup.
Knutzen’s a three-year varsity player who knows the work ethic required to win games, said teammate Cruz Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is another factor in Blaine’s big month. He’s hitting over .500 in the past five games and getting on base about as much as anyone in the league.
“He’s just a workhorse. When things weren’t going well, he was the guy who just kept pushing us,” said Blaine head coach Tanner Olson. “When you start off 2–5 you can check out pretty easily. He’s a guy who’s not going to allow you to.”
Rodriguez’s success at bat started last year after Archbishop Murphy bumped the Borderites out of the playoffs, he said.
“That gave me a chip on my shoulder to work extra hard this season,” Rodriguez said.
The Borderites has three more games before the regular season ends on Thursday, April 26. Blaine plays next at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 20 at Lakewood (2–14).