by Jason Hanes
Carter Blankinship tossed a complete game, allowing just four runs to help deliver SBA Canes the 11u Championship at the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals with a 6-4 win over the East Cobb Astros Saturday afternoon in Marietta, Ga.
"This guy was unbelieveable," said SBA Canes head coach Ross Blankinship said of his starting pitcher. "He's not one of our usual starters. We asked him to go out there and fill up the zone for six innings. He did a fantastic job getting ahead in the counts and keeping batters off-balance."
It was a strong first inning for the SBA Canes as three runs came across in the top half of the inning and they set the East Cobb Astros down in order. Blankinship helped his own cause before he ever stepped on the mound in his start by singling to drive home the first run. After Ezra Taylor's fielder's choice drove in a second run, another single and a wild pitch gave the SBA Canes their third run of the frame.
"Every time I pitch with a lead, I feel better. I'm more confident," said Blankinship.
Blankinship's bat came up big again in the second, as his two-out single through the middle of the infield plated a pair of runs to stretch the lead to 5-0. "I tried to make contact with it," Blankinship said. "I was down in the count and just tried to make contact with it, and I got a hit."
Macon Leppert then continued the second inning scoring as he drove Blankinship home with a single to make it another three-run inning and a 6-0 affair.
"We talk about it all the time; get ahead, win innings, and give yourself a cushion," said Coach Blankinship. "It helps take some of the pressure off if we can get some productive outs."
Blankinship allowed only a walk through two innings, but but a leadoff error in the bottom of the third led to three East Cobb runs. With two men out, Eli Pitts connected for a two-run shot over the 15-foot fence in center 265-feet for the big blow of the inning. Ethan Murray would shoot an RBI single to center for the final run of the frame.
Blankinship would settle back in, keeping the East Cobb Astros off-balance and, more importantly, off the scoreboard. Colin White would also have a solid three innings on the hill for the East Cobb Astros in relief allowing just two hits and two walks while giving his team a chance to come back.
With his team down to its final two outs, Murray would come up big for his side again in the bottom of the sixth. His single just past the shortstop would bring home a run to make it 6-4 and bring the tying run to the plate. Blankinship would bear down on the mound, and would get the final outs to end the game, with a liner to short ending the contest and sending the SBA Canes into a victorious dogpile.
"This team has come a long way this year," Coach Blankinship said. "We've had a lot of kids, from personal development, get to learn new positions and expand their knowledge of the game. The experience this week has been phenomenal. Whenever you can come to East Cobb and play at what we call the 'Baseball Mecca' is an awesome experience."
"I love playing on this field," said the younger Blankinship. "It's been a lot of fun coming here."