The Blaine baseball team traveled to 3A* Ferndale and put together what would have been a solid performance if not for a second inning in which the defense fell apart.
“If you were to take out that five-batter stretch, we played them pretty evenly,” said head coach Sean Linville. “Unfortunately, that’s not how it happened. That inning put us in a deeper hole than we could recover from.”
The Borderites were behind by one run and had put away two Ferndale batters in the bottom of the second when a string of miscues on defense gave the Golden Eagles a 7–0 lead. Blaine’s troubles included four errors and a misplayed fly ball.
“It was about as ugly an inning as I can remember seeing,” Linville said. “It can be hard to come back from that, but I think we
did a great job regrouping and moving on from the mistakes we made. After we got down 7–0 we came together as a team, scrapped and fought. We didn’t roll over and take a beating.”
Blaine lost the game 9–3. Josh Fakkema started on the mound for Blaine and had what Linville called a solid outing. Jared Vogee pitched in the third, fourth and fifth and Cody Gobbato closed for Blaine.
“It was tough for [Fakkema] to be out there with the defense struggling behind him, but he has some good stuff and there are things we can build off of. Overall our pitching was pretty good. We struggled with the strike zone a little too much,” Linville said.
With a bullpen made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, pitches with ball movement are rare for Blaine. Linville said relying on a solid fastball isn’t a bad way to pitch, but he’s hopeful that his young pitchers will begin to develop the breaking ball, which will help fool batters.
“We’re working on it, but most of them are just not comfortable enough with it yet,” Linville said.
On the other side of the plate, Blaine faced a strong Ferndale pitcher but managed to get seven hits and only three strikeouts.
“We did pretty well at bat considering we were up against some good velocity,” Linville said. “We did the little things well, especially on base where we were able to steal and execute hit-and-runs.”
Chris Dahl and Anthony Ball went 2–4 at bat. Jalen Kortlever* hit an RBI single. Linville said Ball and Kortlever, both freshmen, stand out among the newcomers to the team.
“We talk a lot about competing in every at bat and every pitch, and for young kids they’re doing a great job of that,” Linville said.
The takeaway from the Ferndale game is that Blaine is a young team and they will undoubtedly continue to make mistakes, but signs of raw talent and a fighting spirit are encouraging for the rest of the season, Linville said.
“Those mistakes can be fixed,” he said. “For three games into the season, we’re keeping a good attitude and making strides everyday. It’s going to be a learning process throughout the season, but hopefully we’ll see that continued improvement.”
Blaine will play at home against Meridian Friday, March 28. The game begins at 4:30 p.m.
*Corrections made 3/27/2014 at 1 p.m.