Sports -- March 31, 2005

Published on Thu, Mar 31, 2005
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by Jack Kintner

Blaine 6, Lynden Christian 1

After opening up a home stand with a non-league loss to Squalicum, the Borderites have begun to show the potential that will make this a great season and very much worth your making a visit to Blaine’s home park, Pipeline athletic fields east of the airport.

The B’s opened league play by blasting Lynden Christian 6-1 on Rob Bleecker’s two-hit performance, supported by Kyle Dhanani and Joey Paciorek. Aaron Johnson went 3 for 3 and switch-hitting Bryan Galbraith was 2-2, including a clutch two-run double in the fifth that put the game away.

Bleecker’s placement and control worked for him from the start. In the past Bleecker’s nemesis has been keeping the ball down below hat level, but in this outing the junior right-hander was almost unhittable, making good use of a pitch called the “knuckle curve” that the Blaine coaching staff has been teaching their players.

It’s gripped like a four-seam fastball but thrown like a two-finger knuckler. “It’s a good pitch for younger guys,” assistant coach Jim Bleecker explained, “because it has good bite and drops pretty quickly, a 12-6 drop (e.g. noon to 6 o’clock as viewed by the batter). It looks to the batter like a fastball because you throw with the same arm velocity.”
Blaine’s best mound guy is sophomore Joey Paciorek, and in his hands the pitch drops like a bowling ball rolling off a table, almost as fast as the jaws on the batters he faces.

With Rob Bleecker having such a strong first outing Blaine’s pitching looks to stymie a lot of batters this year. Bleecker, Dhanani and Paciorek are all in the mid 80s with their fastballs, they’ve all got pretty good curves coming along, and the knuckle-curve, with a fastball delivery, change-up speed and a drop like a broken elevator, just adds to the arsenal.

Blaine 3, Sehome 3

Blaine continued to put on a pitching clinic during this strong home stand, this time to the AAA Sehome Mariners last Friday. Ryan Henley struck out eight in four and a third innings, his intimidating fastball blowing the doors off a reasonably good offensive team. Craig Rothwell, Rob Bleecker and Joey Paciorek all collected RBI’s, and Paciorek scored twice and got a triple.

Henley’s outing showed what a good fastball can do, one that hovers in the mid to upper 80s and is delivered faster than yesterday’s mail.

Sehome came back in the fifth on the strength of a two-run double to tie the game, and by the eighth inning the game was called due to darkness. Since it’s a non-league contest the game is over and will go down as a tie.

The Borderites meet probably the best in the state this afternoon as they go up against a Lakewood team that lost last year’s state championship game by one run to Port Townsend. Their entire starting nine are back. The game will be played at Joe Martin field, weather permitting. Call the high school after the noon hour to find out.

You’ll see either Rob Bleecker or Ryan Henley pitch, depending upon whether or not a make-up game was played Wednesday against Mt. Baker.