The Crescent City Warriors 11U baseball team was already in good shape with an 8-2 lead over 6 T Baseball in the 11 and under championship game of the Fall Classic in Medford on Sunday, but Cole Blackburn ended it with an exclamation point.
In the fourth inning, Blackburn, the Warriors pitcher and No. 2 hitter, sent a pitch 280 feet down the left field line and out of the ball park with Brody Mattz on base, pushing Crescent City’s lead to 10-2 and bringing the eight-run rule into effect.
“That is quite a way to win a tournament,” said Warriors’ head coach Cris Rice. “You couldn’t really script it any better. To win on a walk-off, the kids have seen that sort of thing on TV, but to be a part of it is pretty awesome.”
The team from Crescent City was red hot all weekend long, playing in just its second travel baseball tournament ever.
The Warriors picked up a pair of wins in pool play on Saturday, beating Rogue Baseball Crimson 8-0 and Northstate Wolfpack 7-3 in what turned out to be the closest game of the tournament for Crescent City.
The Warriors picked up an 11-1 victory over the Yreka Golf Sox in the semifinals on Sunday before beating 6 T Baseball from Red Bluffs for the championship.
“The kids are now 6-1 overall in their tournaments over in Medford and we have played a different team every time except for the Yreka team, who we have played twice,” Rice said. “I was impressed with the kids’ ability to persevere and to hit the ball, and our pitching was just outstanding.”
The Warrior pitchers were dominant all weekend long, as Crescent City’s allowed just five runs in four games.
“We were able to bring Ethan Thomas from the Steelheads team, he was nine days eligible to play for us, so he was kind of an added player that we weren’t expecting to have,” Rice said. “Between Ethan, Brody Mattz and Cole Blackburn, the pitching was just phenomenal. Our earned run average was pretty amazing for that level. We were always going to win when we got more than a couple runs from our team, and we seemed to jump out in the first inning in each game and get two or three runs.”
This fall is the first time in recent history that Crescent City has had a travel baseball team, and the Fall Classic was the Warriors’ first ever tournament championship.
“I told the kids to get used to the feeling, because this isn’t going to be the last time that they have this type of success,” Rice said. “We are looking forward to the Turkey Slam in November. There is a team from Salem that is supposed to be really good and then there is a team called the Southern Oregon Generals, and it costs about $15,000 to be on their team.
“We have seen the other five teams that are going to be there, so we are really excited to get a chance to face these two top tier teams.”
The Warriors will be back in action on Sunday in an exhibition doubleheader against Blackburn’s other team, the Northern Humboldt Steelheads. Rice said Blackburn will play one game with each team, starting at 2 p.m. at the Arcata Community Center.