When a community has members that work as hard as some of the individuals who make up the City of Portsmouth, it’s only fitting that they get to take in a Cincinnati Reds contest and celebrate a Reds victory.
Bobby Blanton, Wendi Waugh, and Joe McClurg, among others, got to do just that on Sunday afternoon as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Chicago Cubs in the final contest of a three-game set, 7-3, on Portsmouth Days at Great American Ballpark behind two RBI from Scott Schebler, including a solo shot, and a bases-clearing double from Patrick Kivelhan.
For Bobby Blanton, it was a chance to show off a hidden talent that some may not know him for. And according to Blanton, the overall experience was better than advertised.
“It was pretty incredible,” Blanton said. “It was a good honor, and I was just really wanting to do a good job. It was a lot of fun.”
“It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed doing,” Blanton continued. “Hopefully, it will inspire other kids to sing or pursue their passions. It’s something that I love to do, and hopefully, I get to keep doing it.”
Blanton’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” was as successful as his 2017 season has been with the Clay tennis program, if not moreso — which is saying a lot, considering that Clay holds a 10-3 overall mark and an 8-2 mark in SOC action, with their only losses coming to Wheelersburg (3-2) and Waverly, who sits with an undefeated mark in SOC play.
Signing the national anthem successfully in front of tens of thousands, however, is no small feat — which makes it all the more incredible that Blanton never showed any nerves or broke stride during the signing of the song that brings America together.
“Honestly, nothing,” Blanton said when asked what he thought about during the anthem itself. “I just sung it and watched the fireworks (out in center field).”
In addition to Blanton, Waugh got the festivities rolling when the Administrative Director of SOMC Cancer Services and Community Health and Wellness, threw out the first pitch. Also in attendance was McClurg, who was honored for his active duty in the Air Force during the Vietnam War following the second inning of action.
The trio seemed to bring good luck with them to Cincinnati, as well, as the Reds moved to 9-3 overall when surrendering five runs or less in its 7-5 victory over the Cubs (10-8). Bronson Arroyo was especially splendid in his starting effort, as the 40-year old threw six innings of three-hit baseball while striking out seven Chicago batters on just 66 pitches. The only dent against Arroyo came on a two-run blast to right field by Anthony Rizzo in the fourth inning as the right hander threw 48 of his 66 pitches for strikes in the contest.
After obtaining a run in the first inning on a single and two stolen bases by Billy Hamilton, Joey Votto drove Hamilton in with his sacrifice fly to deep right center that scored Hamilton.
Then, Scott Schebler took over.
Following a solo shot to right center field by the right fielder in the bottom of the second, the left-handed batter followed by driving in Eugenio Suarez with his base knock to give Cincinnati (10-9) the lead for good in the bottom half of the fourth frame.
The sixth inning, however, was where the Reds sealed matters up for good.
Following an infield error, a walk by Suarez, and a beautifully placed bunt single by Scooter Gennett down the third base line, Kivelhan stepped to the plate and followed by cashing in on the opportunity by driving in Votto, Suarez, and Gennett on a bases-clearing double that sailed all the way to the left field wall. Kivelhan then scored on another error to increase the Reds’ lead to 7-3, and the efforts of Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta, and Raisel Iglesias from the bullpen sewed up the contest from there as Cincinnati salvaged a game in the series and took home its 10th win of the year in the process.
As with the vast majority of sporting events, it’s not just about the game, but the overall experience.
And that is something that Blanton surely won’t forgot.
“It’s quite an honor,” Blanton said on singing the national anthem. “I know that there’s other people that could’ve been chosen. I’m just humbled that I was able to do it. Hopefully, (the fans) enjoyed it and thought that I did a good job. It’s something that I certainly won’t forget.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7