ARLINGTON – Blaine Blackburn picked a good time to have a great day.
With the cathedral of the Ballpark in Arlington as his backdrop, the senior did just about everything a baseball player could in Midlothian’s game against county rival Waxahachie. He caught fly balls, stole a base, got some hits, scored a run and struck some guys out. His big day kept the Panthers in the game but in the end it wasn’t quite enough in a 3-1 loss.
Fearful of being on the big stage? You don’t know Blaine Blackburn.
“Nah, I was like let’s go. I love pitching, it’s my favorite thing to do next to hitting and stealing bases,” Blackburn said.
He started the day in left field picking up the first out of the game for Midlothian with a fly ball. He then proceeded to get another fly ball in each of the next two innings before trotting out to the bullpen to begin loosening up.
In the bottom of the sixth, Blackburn got the call to take the hill where he faced five batters with impressive results. He opened by striking out the first hitter he faced and got the next to fly out to left. An error on an infield pop-up cost the team a quick inning and Blackburn made it a little more interesting by hitting the next batter he faced.
With two on and two out he dug deep to pick up his second strikeout of the inning.
“I was just like crap I let that curve ball go, it slipped,” Blackburn said of his hit batter. “I had confidence in getting another kid out.”
While his work in the field was key to the team’s success his biggest efforts for the day came at the plate where the veteran has been coming up with big production as of late. After hitting a few extra base hits in tournament play over the weekend, Blackburn started in the No. 9 hole and proceeded to have the best hitting day of all his Panther teammates.
He finished 2-for-2 with two singles, the only Midlothian player to record a multi-hit game. His third inning hit led to Midlothian’s first and only run of the day as he stole second during teammate Alec Humphreys’ at-bat and scored moments later when the Waxahachie infield made an error. His second hit of the day led off the sixth inning as the Panthers looked to have something going. Blackburn was replaced on the base pads by a pinch runner, who was picked off to end the threat.
Midlothian coach Ray Hydes called Blackburn’s efforts a “heck of a day” in all facets of the game. His hope is that others will soon follow the lead of their senior.
“Blaine’s been playing real well that’s why we’re giving him the nod. He’s been out there swinging the bat, doing a great job. He works hard, he’s a competitor and we knew that from last year,” Hydes said. “He’s going to be a good player for us this year. He’s going to have to step up which he’s doing and get some people to join him.”
For now, Blackburn just wants to do his part in any area the Panthers may need him in, be it pitching, fielding or hitting.
His relaxed attitude in the dugout is far cry from his mental approach at the plate where he has been aggressive and determined as of late. It’s that style of play that helped create a day to remember.
“I’m swinging at the first pitch I see. I don’t want to wait. You only get three so do it as soon as you can,” Blackburn said.
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