Sports -- April 15, 2004

Published on Thu, Apr 15, 2004
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by Jack Kintner

After winning four straight and scoring 14 runs in two of them, Blaine’s bats were corralled in successive games by Nooksack Valley’s Ben VanDyken and Sultan’s Cliff French.

Blaine’s record of 4-5 in league play has them knotted with several other schools for the six spots in league playoffs.

Coach Gary Clausen remains optimistic about his young squad nonetheless. “We’re a little young yet and streaky,” he said, “but we’ve found that the middle of our batting order has four consistent hitters in Joey Paciorek, Craig Rothwell, Shawn McLaughlin and Robert Bleecker.”

Though not the only source of scoring, the quartet has combined for 20 hits in the last six games. Rothwell alone has had seven RBIs. Defensively, Aaron Johnson at second base has been a pleasant surprise. “Our infield play has come along fairly well for a young team,” Clausen said.

With Nooksack Valley, VanDyken and reliever Bret Handy combined for 14 Ks to hold Blaine to two runs on four hits. Against Sultan, the Borderites faced one of the better control pitchers they’re likely to see this year in Cliff French, who struck out 16 and allowed only two hits, one each to Bryan Galbraith and Alex Abrams.

“The next three games are important for us,” Clausen concluded, “since the league standings are so knotted up. If we can win at least two of them we’ll be in good shape for the post season.”