Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 4, 2014

Blanton boys 3-for-3

Three Johnson Central brothers have pitched in state tournament since '04

LEXINGTON — As an 8-year-old boy in the stands, Seth Blanton drifted in and out of baseball diamond daydreams.

One day that would be him, he thought as he watched his oldest brother, Adam, pitch as a Johnson Central Golden Eagle in the state tournament in Lexington.

Adam Blanton pieced together a complete-game effort as the Golden Eagles beat Ashland, 2-1, in the 2004 state quarterfinals at what was then known as Applebees Park. Johnson Central fell short in the semifinals.

Three years later, Justin Blanton, the middle brother, started in the quarterfinal round against heavily favored Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar won 10-0 before rolling to a state title.

On Tuesday, the third of John and Teresa Blanton’s three sons footed the rubber as the starting pitcher on the same mound. Seth threw three innings as Johnson Central pulled off a remarkable upset over No. 1 Tates Creek to advance into the quarterfinals.

“I don’t know if this has ever happened in state history or not,” John said, “but it’s an unbelievable feeling. The special thing about it is watching how hard your boys work.”

Flashbacks were inevitable for Teresa.

“I was thinking back to 10 years ago when we first came with Adam, and now a decade later, here we are again,” Teresa glowed. “It’s just magical.”

Johnson Central hitters gave Seth a two-run cushion before he stepped in between the lines. The Golden Eagles and Commodores were tied at 3-3 when eighth-grader Tate Meade relieved the junior.

Wearing the underdog tag proudly, Johnson Central roughed up Tates Creek pitchers for five runs in a pivotal fifth inning.

By that time, a relaxing sensation washed over Seth. Now, he could shout to the world that his team won a game that he started in the state tournament, a distinction only Adam previously held among the brothers.

“Everybody’s always compared me to him,” Seth said. “They’ve always made it clear that if I couldn’t do what he did that I’m not as good as he ever was. That pressure has always been there. Now it’s kind of a chance to breathe a little bit.”

Adam and Justin both pitched at the University of the Cumberlands. Kentucky had offered Adam before he missed his senior high school season with a back injury.

By the time he got to Cumberlands, Adam was zipping fastballs in the low 90s (miles per hour). He is ranked second all-time in appearances for the Patriots.

Justin played for Marietta College in Ohio for one year before finishing his college career at Cumberlands.

Seth said he’s not finished tracking his oldest brother. Two more wins will advance Seth’s Golden Eagles past the point reached by Adam’s group.

“I want that very badly,” he said. “I want to rub that in a little bit.”

“Typical brothers,” Teresa chuckled. “Seth has always thought he was as big as them anyway.”

Reminded Adam, with a grin: “Hey, they still got two more games to win ...

“... But I hope they go and exceed what we did,” he continued. “It’s great for the state, great for them, great for the fans. It’s a big accomplishment already. This is something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”

Justin’s outing in 2007 didn’t go as desired, but the opportunity alone is still one he cherishes.

“Watching Seth brought back a lot of good memories,” Justin said. “Something that he coveted as he watched us, he did as the last one of us. He wanted that so bad. I couldn’t be any more proud of him.”

Justin left Whitaker wishing he had made a wager with the rest of the Bluegrass on Tuesday.

“If I’d have put $100 on Central today, I would’ve been a millionaire because everybody in the state would’ve bet against me,” Justin said.

Teresa said she was “speechless” when asked about knocking off the top-ranked team.

Claiming to not be superstitious, John sat in the exact seat he occupied in 2004. He took a spot to the left of behind home plate, a few rows from the field.

Because Tates Creek was such a highly touted favorite, John kept his cool as Seth trotted to the mound.

“I was asked if I was nervous before the game and I said no, because we weren’t supposed to win this game,” John said. “They had a nothing-to-lose type situation.”

Seth kept his composure, too. He allowed four hits in three frames.

Next up is the next-best team, in terms of state ranking, coming into the tournament. No. 3 St. Xavier awaits the Golden Eagles tonight at 8:30.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0718spinda.jpg Steelers super fan Spinda to be recognized in Florida

    Shawn Spinda doesn’t have to use speech to profess his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    All it takes is a quick glance for a person to get the picture.
    But to absorb the whole picture, you’ll need to clear your schedule.
    Spinda is one of several fanatics who will be recognized at the Sports Fans Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. He is a “What a Fan” NFL Fan of the Year nominee.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0703rfLL0204.jpg Little League State Baseball: Ready to run

    Morehead 11- and 12-year-old All-Star baseball manager Toby Gardner collectively likened his team to a racehorse.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0717prokick1.jpg Prokicker.com camp Eleven Ashland Tomcat football players were part of the Ray Guy Prokicker.com camp at Huntington High. The high-profile camps are put on all over the country. Rick Sang, an Ashland native who befriended Guy 20 years ago, is the camp's founder.

    July 16, 2014

  • 0716fbpractice0105.jpg Four-down territory: Making summer football practice pit stops

    The popular Monday night catchphrase filled my room on Tuesday morning as my new alarm sounded off at 7 a.m.

    July 16, 2014 5 Photos

  • 0716softball.jpg KHSAA pushes presence of masks

    Fairview’s Sydney Ekers and Lewis County’s Kelsey Rizzo didn’t wear masks to play softball until after they were struck in the face by line drives.
    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has made a recommendation that it hopes will reduce such instances.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo