One game does not a season make.
But Chandler Blanchard’s final high school baseball game certainly made a statement.
Blanchard smacked three homers and pitched a complete game in leading the Cougars to a 7-4 win over Bishop Gorman in the Division I state title game, snapping the Gaels’ streak of seven consecutive championships.
“It was kind of the perfect movie scenario,” Coronado coach David Padilla said. “That’s what you always dream of in the championship game. He had the dream moment right there. It’s just a testament to how hard he worked for us all four years at Coronado.”
That final performance showed just how valuable Blanchard was to the Cougars this season, and he was named state Player of the Year to highlight the Review-Journal’s all-state team.
Blanchard batted in the middle of the Cougars’ order all year, finishing as the No. 3 hitter. He hit .386 with 40 RBIs and a school-record 12 home runs. On the mound, he went 10-1 with two saves and a 2.66 ERA.
“It’s tough for somebody of that caliber to be good at both pitching and hitting,” Padilla said. “But he put in the effort and excelled at both of them.”
Padilla said he expected Blanchard to be a key to Coronado’s success.
“The kid is a great baseball player, a great student, a great kid,” Padilla said. “He was a huge asset for our team, but we knew that coming in.”
Blanchard teamed with fellow all-stater Dylan Myers to form a potent 1-2 punch on the mound for the Cougars. Blanchard struck out 45 and walked 10 in 52 2/3 innings.
“He was one of those guys that could come in and throw in the high 80s and sometimes low 90s and get batters out,” Padilla said. “He was clutch.”
The same could be said of his offense, considering he led the team in home runs, RBIs and runs (42). Padilla said Blanchard has been recruited to pitch at Pepperdine, but the coach can see his star excelling with the bat in college as well.
“Now he gets to make the decision at Pepperdine. Is he going to be a pitcher or a hitter?” Padilla said. “That’s their problem now, and that’s a very good problem to have.”
The 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Blanchard capped an outstanding regular season with an even better postseason. He hit six homers in the playoffs, including five in the state tournament.
“Any time you put the ball around the plate and he puts good aluminum on it, it’s going to go,” Padilla said. “He’s a big, strong kid. He finally put it all together with five home runs in the state tournament. That’s something pretty awesome.”
So was Blanchard’s performance on the mound in the final. He had thrown 51 pitches and given up eight earned runs in a 9-7 loss to Gorman on the first day of the state tournament but came back to pitch a complete game, allowing three earned runs and striking out four on one day of rest in the title game.
“The nice part in the state tournament is he had fire going into that last Gorman game,” Padilla said. “(The loss) didn’t sit well with him. I could see it. I knew that if I offered him the ball in that championship game, he was going to take it and I wasn’t going to have to go get him.
“I think he proved to a lot of people exactly what he could do.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.