Prep Baseball & Softball

Blaine, Lynden face stiff challenges in 2A baseball regional

Blaine’s Jon Starcer, left, and Lynden’s Jordan Wittenberg have played big roles in helping their teams reach the regional round of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament.
Blaine’s Jon Starcer, left, and Lynden’s Jordan Wittenberg have played big roles in helping their teams reach the regional round of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament. The Bellingham Herald

Blaine and Lynden both advanced to the Bellingham regional of the Class 2A State Tournament Saturday, May 21, at Joe Martin Field. The Borderites will face talented Fife at 10 a.m., while Lynden will take on defending state champion Centralia at 1 p.m. The winners will meet in the state quarterfinals at 4 p.m.

0521 Blaine BASE

Blaine vs. Fife

10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Joe Martin Field

Scouting the Borderites

Record: 15-9

League: 2A Northwest Conference (sixth)

District: Northwest (third)

Previous state appearances: 12

State playoff record: 16-12

State titles: 1 (1990)

The Borderites return to the state tournament for the first time since 2010, and what a roll they are on. After upsetting Burlington-Edison 2-1 to open the district tournament, Blaine won back-to-back must-win games against Anacortes (6-1) and then Archbishop Murphy (9-2). Jon Gunderson earned the win against ATM, and Anthony Ball and Josh Fakkema both had 3 for 4 days. The Borderites won eight of their last 11 regular season games and then took three out of four during the district tournament.

Scouting the Trojans

Record: 19-3

League: 2A South Puget Sound League (first)

District: West Central/Sea-King (third)

Previous state appearances: 6

State playoff record: 1-6

State titles: None

Fife dominated its regular season, posting a 14-0 conference record, and the Trojans only six times allowed three or more runs in a game. Fife won the first two games of its district tournament, but Liberty snapped its 11-game win streak by beating the Trojans 7-1. A canceled third-place game with River Ridge left Fife with a third-place finish in the district tournament. Fife has two Division I talents in center fielder Jaden Hassell (Washington) and pitcher Tanner Knapp (Seattle University). Knapp, Fife’s ace, has led a strong Trojans’ pitching staff all season long.

Key to the game: There’s no doubt Blaine has some magic working right now and is on a special run, but Fife will be a tough out. The Trojans have handled opponents all season long, and Blaine will most likely see starting pitcher Tanner Knapp. The Borderites will need to score some early runs and hope Jon Starcer is at his best against a strong-hitting Fife lineup.

Herald’s pick: Fife 5-1

0521 Lynden BASE

Centralia vs. Lynden

1 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Joe Martin Field

Scouting the Tigers

Record: 13-11

League: 2A Evergreen (second)

District: Southwest (third)

Previous state appearances: 30

State playoff record: 36-28

State titles: 3 (1982, 1993, 2015)

Last year’s Class 2A state champions are back in the tournament but don’t appear quite as formidable as they were a season ago. After losing to Tumwater in the district semfinal, the Tigers won back-to-back games against Black Hills and RA Long to clinch their state berth. Centralia used a seven-run fifth inning to beat RA Long. The Tigers ended the regular season losing nine of their last 12 games, but three wins in the district tournament will allow the Tigers to defend their state title.

Scouting the Lions

Record: 18-3

League: 2A Northwest Conference (second)

District: Northwest (first)

Previous state appearances: 14

State playoff record: 11-15

State titles: None

Lynden is playing arguably its best baseball of the season after winning three straight during the district tournament and earning a tourney title. The Lions swept the Cascade Conference schools, beating Granite Falls and Archbishop before taking down Cedarcrest, 4-1, in the title game. Trevin Hope, Jared House and James Marsh combined to allow only six hits to the Red Wolves. Jordan Wittenberg and Anthony Garcia hit leadoff doubles, and Garcia, Jordan Holmstrom and Rylan Severson helped Lynden tally two runs in the sixth inning. Lynden has won 13 of its past 14 games.

Key to the game: Winning a state title last year surely has to give Centralia confidence, but Lynden has had a terrific season and most likely has more talent. Look for seniors, such as Jordan Wittenberg and Dalton Ohligschlager, to help the Lions advance to a state quarterfinal matchup with Fife.

Herald’s pick: Lynden 7-3

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