Blaine baseball opponents can expect a large dose of strong left-handed pitching this season. The Borderites will be sending out an entirely left-handed starting rotation this season, including senior stand-out Kyle Olason.
“That’s the first time we’ve had that,” said head coach Gary Clausen adding, “I think our pitching this year will be okay.” Borderite fortunes, however, may rise or fall on how hitting improves.
“That’s where we struggled last year,” Clausen said, “especially hitting in the clutch. That’s just a matter of experience.”
All eyes will be on Olason who finished with a 3-3 record last year and excelled in the summer playing for Post 7. He has already committed to play for the University of Washington next year.
Olason got the opening day start against Mt. Baker on March 22 at Pipeline Fields. He combined with Dylan Alexander on one-hitting Mt. Baker as the Borderites routed the Mounties 11-1.
The game was played closely through the top of the third, both teams exchanging runs.
Andrew Miller started the game with a lead off triple in the first and scored later on a wild pitch to Tanner Weaver. Olason himself contributed to the Mt. Baker run in the top of the third when he surrendered two walks. The Mounties also stole three bases in the inning and scored on their lone infield hit. That was as close as the Mountaineers would get.
With one out in the bottom of the same inning, Dustin Dhanani walked before Olason crushed a two run homer over the 375-foot sign for a 3-1 lead.
Consecutive singles by Todd Bird, Weaver and Joel Garza and a sacrifice fly by Parker Wallace scored Byrd and Weaver to stretch the lead to 5-1. Miller scored again in the fourth all the way from first base on a single by Dhanani, making it 6-1.
The Borderites erupted for three more hits in the fifth inning, scoring Wallace on a sacrifice ground ball by Miller. Pinch runner Shawn Allen scored on a wild pitch.
Alexander came on in relief of Olason in the top of the 6th inning shutting out the Mounties on two strikeouts and a ground out. The game ended with the mercy rule in the bottom of the inning when with two on, Bird homered to left to build a 10 run lead.
Olason, who finished with nine strikeouts, three walks and a wild pitch, dominated Mt. Baker with his fastball and began to mix his breaking ball in later innings.
“I felt pretty good out there,” the winning pitcher said. “My velocity’s there and I’ve been mixing in a cutter to save my arm.”
Coach Clausen was pleased with his squad’s performance, particularly the Borderites banging out 11 hits, including two home runs.
“This was a great game for us,” Clausen extolled, “we hit the ball really well today.”