Fresh off their stunning victory over Northwest conference leader Sehome, Blaine faced an Anacortes team they had swept this season for a ticket into the 2A state baseball tournament.
Kyle Olason was churning through the Seahawk lineup with machine-like efficiency, spotting his fastball with a wicked curve ball and his signature cutter. Blaine managed to manufacture an add-on run in the top of the seventh inning to extend their lead to 4-0.
However, something funny happened on the way to the Borderites first trip to state since 2005, when they placed third. Anacortes’ Billy King laced a line drive off the left shin of the Blaine ace pitcher. In fielding the ball, the injured Olason threw high to first. The error opened the long closed door to Anacortes batters for a frantic Seahawk rally.
Anacortes loaded the bases on two singles, before King scored on a wild pitch by Olason, who then reloaded the bases with a walk. Anacortes starting pitcher Cory Cambell plated a second run with a sacrifice fly.
The Borderites then intentionally walked lead off hitter Braiden Darling who already had three of the five Anacortes hits and with one out, Olason found himself facing Mark Medalia who represented the winning run.
Olason shook off the sting of the injury and made Medalia chase his off-speed pitch for his 11th strikeout of the night and, more importantly, the crucial second out of the inning. A moment later, the Borderites caught Seahawk base runner Tyler Hayes in a rundown to finally secure a precarious 4-2 victory May 11 at Volunteer Field and precious passage into the state tourney.
“That really was the biggest strikeout of my career,” said a breathless Olason as his jubilant teammates celebrated with fans.
Olason’s error was the only blight on a game which he seemed to personally put on his own shoulders. With two outs in the top of the first, Olason crushed an opposite field solo home run to give Blaine the lead it would never lose. In the third inning, he helped the Borderites take advantage of an Seahawk error, again going opposite field for a double to score Andrew Miller and expanding the lead to 3-0.
He got out of a bases loaded, two out jam in the bottom of that inning, getting Medalia to fly out.
The district tournamen’s number 8 seed and the number 5 out of the Northwest conference, Blaine's unlikely late-season run, which was punctuated by the win, was made even more savory because the Borderites had to struggle just to get into the final play-in game after a mid-season swoon that left Blaine on the brink of elimination.
Besides a trip to state, Blaine's other reward is a spot in the class 2A Northwest District Championship game against top ranked Archbishop Thomas Murphy, Saturday, May 15 at Volunteer Field. The Wildcats got into the title game with an epic 8-7 extra inning win over Lakewood, racking up 16 hits in coming from behind.
“They’re really good,” commented Blaine coach Gary Clausen about Archbishop Murphy, “I know they can hit the snot out of the ball.”