Blankenship sails through Brownsburg
After their clutch 10-3 victory Tuesday evening to qualify for the US semifinals, Apopka,
Florida had quite a bit of momentum.
They rode that momentum all the way through one of the toughest U.S. teams in the Little League World Series, the Brownsburg Little League All-Stars. Apopka, lead by slugger Will Blankenship sailed into the U.S. Championship with a 6-1 victory Wednesday evening in front of 15,400 enthusiastic fans at Lamade Stadium.
In the first inning, Blankenship gave his team the early lead. With two on and one out, Blankenship parked a T.J. Baumet fastball in the left field hillside, an estimated 40 feet past the fence. The bomb was Balnkenship’s third homerun in his last three at-bats.
“Our coach talked a lot about making the pitcher work and come to us,” he said. “I guess that it is working, I knew the ball was gone as soon as I hit it.”
At the end of the inning, Baumet was lifted off the mound in favor of Kyle Waggoner.
“I just felt like Kyle’s fastballs had a little more movement on them and I wanted to give Apopka a different look,” said Brownsburg manager Gary King.
Apopka scored another run, with two outs in the third inning. Brandon Brewer came home on a passed ball to make the score 4-0.
With their remaining outs quickly disappearing, Brownsburg gained a little ground on Apopka. Mick Meyer’s sacrifice bunt plated Michael Bradburn to make the score 4-1.
Apopka added one run in the fifth and another in the sixth to pad their lead.
Apopka pitcher Justin Lafavers had more than enough run support. Lafavers tossed a complete-game and did not allow any earned runs. He struck out seven in the effort.
“Having that early three run lead helped me a lot,” he said. “I had a little room to work with and that made me really comfortable on the mound.”
“(Advancing to the US final) is really exciting,” Brewer said. “I didn’t think that we would make it this far after losing to New York, but here we are.”
Apopka takes on the winner of the New York-California semifinal to be played Thursday evening. The U.S. Championship will be played Saturday at Lamade Stadium.