Gone was the memory of Nathan Trueblood’s sparkling victory over Northwest Conference leader Sehome as well as Kyle Olason’s masterful gems against Granite Falls and Anacortes.
Lost was the crisp play and timely hitting which were part of the late season surge that had carried Blaine into the Class 2A Northwest District tournament championship game.
Instead, top ranked Archbishop Murphy made Blaine look like the team that struggled at mid-season, capitalizing on poor pitching and fielding, shelling the Borderites 13-3 in a four and a half inning shortened game at Volunteer Field in Anacortes May 15.
The Wildcats spotted Blaine a 2-0 lead after one inning. Andrew Miller led off with a single and Dustin Dhanani followed with a walk as Archbishop Murphy pitcher Chris Peterson struggled with jitters early.
Todd Bird plated one run with a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch scored the second run. Trueblood got through the bottom of the first unscathed but then became unraveled early in the bottom of the second.
Trueblood opened the inning with two walks which were compounded by three Borderite errors, three Wildcat hits and two more walks, as Archbishop Murphy sent 11 men to the plate and grabbed a 5-2 lead.
Still, the Borderites seemed that they might hang around. In the top of the third, Blaine closed to 5-3 as Dhanani walked again and consecutive hits by Olason and Bird scored courtesy runner Luke Feenstra, for his second RBI. In the bottom of the third, Dillon Alexander came in to relieve the shell-shocked Trueblood but promptly walked the leadoff hitter. After an out on a fielder’s choice, Dillon gave up seven hits, including a two-run home run by John Veriano, as well as a hit batsman. In all, the Wildcats sent 13 batters to the plate in the third extending the lead to 13-3 to put the game out of reach. Todd Bird replaced Alexander in a mop up role in the fourth.
“You can’t play that poorly against a good team like that,” Blaine coach Gary Clausen lamented after the game, “and expect to win the game. You don’t like finishing a season when you don’t play well.”
Fortunately, the Borderites’ victories over Granite Falls, Sehome and Anacortes secured Blaine’s first trip to the state tournament next week in the Yelm region where they will face W. F. West of Chehalis.