Facing elimination, and in need of a crucial home win, Madison-Ridgeland Academy coach Allen Pavatte had a question for his four captains.
Who will step up and lead the way?
That’s where South Carolina football and baseball signee Stone Blanton came in. The four-star linebacker slammed a pair of solo home runs to jumpstart the Patriot offense as MRA emerged with a 12-11 win over Jackson Prep in Game Two of the MAIS Class 6A state championship series.
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“I try to kill the ball to center field, that’s kind of my approach, see the ball deep and then shoot it right back up the middle out to center field,” Blanton said.
Blanton belted a curveball over the left-field fence in the fourth inning to give MRA a 5-4 lead. Then he turned on a fastball towards the upper part of the strike zone for home run No. 2.
The Patriots led 12-5 heading into the sixth inning. Jackson Prep rallied and almost tied the game, but MRA was able to hold on for a one-run win.
“Our kids have grown up a lot … they’ve grown over the season. I think more than anything it gives the confidence,” Pavatte said.
Infielder Payton Martin, a Northwest Community College signee, broke MRA’s single-season hits record during the game.
‘I’m proud of him,” Pavatte said. “He’s one of the best hitters in my coaching career that I’ve gotten to coach. I was glad he got it tonight. Glad he got it on his home field with his parents here and a bunch of his family here to do it and he stepped up.”
With the win, Madison-Ridgeland Academy will face Jackson Prep in a decisive Game Three at Jackson Prep Thursday night at Jackson Prep.
“It will be a dogfight tomorrow,” Pavatte said. “These are two of the best teams in Mississippi playing for a state championship and I would expect nothing less. Last night was not a very good indication of our team. We didn’t play well. But tomorrow is going to be a dogfight.”
Blanton said that he’s focused on not letting this rollercoaster of a series make him get too high or too low.
“This team is really good at that. We go by every day,” Blanton said. “We’re not a team that’s going to look back and be too high or too low. We bounced back from yesterday which was a really rough day. We’ll bounce back tomorrow after a good night tonight. We still have things to improve on and we know that. We still haven’t played our best game.”
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: South Carolina signee Stone Blanton crushes two home-runs in playoff win