It's been quite the week for Travis Blankenhorn, so he wanted to be in the batter's box with the game on the line Sunday.
Minnesota's 28th-ranked prospect blasted a go-ahead homer in the top of the ninth inning to cap a 4-for-6 effort with four RBIs as Double-A Pensacola rallied to clip Tennessee, 11-10, at Smokies Stadium.
Video: Pensacola's Blankenhorn homers to complete comeback
The multi-hit game was Blankenhorn's third in the past seven contests, boosting his average to .319 -- its highest point since he was batting .350 on May 1.
The 2015 third-round pick led off the game with an infield fly that dropped for a base hit when Smokies third baseman Jesse Hodges collided with right-hander Cory Abbott between the mound and plate and neither was able to make a play. Abbott struck him out in the third and fifth innings.
"Leading off and popping one up ... obviously, there was some frustration. I was not happy -- but it fell; we'll take it," Blankenhorn said. "It was a 1-1 [pitch], and I'm looking to swing at strikes. I was not going to chase a pitch out of the zone. Sometimes you just need some luck."
Gameday box score
Trailing in the sixth, 5-3, and facing right-hander Jake Stinnett, the 22-year-old second baseman stroked an RBI double into left field to plate Jordan Gore. Blankenhorn added a two-out single to right off lefty Ian Clarkin that knocked in Caleb Hamilton and Mark Contreras in the seventh to cut Pensacola's deficit to 10-8.
Pensacola was able to set the stage for his heroics with a defensive play in the bottom of the eighth. With one out and Charcer Burks on third, Hodges hit a ball that Blue Wahoos third baseman Hamilton snared and threw to home plate. The ensuing rundown ended with Burks being tagged for the second out. The next batter, Gioskar Amaya, grounded out to end the frame.
With the game knotted in the ninth, 10-10, Blankenhorn led off by smoking a 3-2 pitch from right-hander Brad Markey over the right-field wall for his eighth dinger with Pensacola. That proved to be the game-deciding run.
"Bottom of the eighth, runner on third with one out -- our third baseman kept us in the game with a good play," Blankenhorn said. "In the top of the ninth, I wanted to try to put our team ahead. [Tennessee] scored some runs early, but our goal was to chip away. We got a couple times with bases loaded, scored some runs and our pitchers held them.
"It was a 3-2 pitch and I just tried to stay in the zone," the Pottsville, Pennsylvania, native said of the homer. "[Markey] gave me a fastball ... I did not want to play extra innings. It was already a four-hour game in 90-degree heat. I saw it and swung the bat."
It was the fourth four-hit game of his career, and his first since Aug. 20, 2017 with Class A Cedar Rapids.
2019 MiLB include
Twins No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff went 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to five games.
Tennessee's Jared Young was 4-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
Markey (1-2) was saddled with the loss after giving up one run on two hits and a walk in two innings.
Williams Ramirez (2-0), the Blue Wahoos' sixth pitcher of the day, picked up the victory after 1 2/3 innings of spotless relief with one strikeout.