Former Greenbrier standout Brandon Cumpton had been very impressive in his first three big league starts, but one thing had eluded the young right- hander – a win. Despite earning a ton of respect from veterans on the team and impressing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ front office with solid showings in each start for the parent club, Cumpton was 0-1 on the season. That all changed Tuesday night.
The Pirates entered Tuesday a half game in back of first-place St. Louis. Not bad for a franchise in search of its first winning season in 21 years. After taking game one of a double- header versus the rival Cardinals, Cumpton started the nightcap with first place on the line. The former ’Pack star did not let his team down. He was brilliant, throwing 7 shutout innings and combining with a reliever on a 3-hit shutout. Cumpton worked seven innings, allowing 3 hits and no runs while striking out five batters and walking only one. The control he displayed was tremendous.
Cumpton threw only 87 pitches and 65 were for strikes. And, he was doing this against the premier offensive team in the National League. St. Louis boasts three hitters in the top seven in the NL in batting average. As a team the Cards lead the league in batting average by a whopping .18 points. They have scored a league-best 505 runs (22 more than any team in the NL) and they lead the majors in run differential.
We may look back one day on this start as the game that changed Cumpton’s life. The Pirates now lead the NL Central by 2.5 games. As they battle for a division crown and a playoff spot, they now know they can rely on Cumpton to give them a solid effort on the mound whenever he is called upon.
Lakeside senior defensive end Kendall White has committed to play for Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. The 6-2, 220 -pound White was named first team all region and all county after compiling 61 tackles, two forced fumbles, and seven tackles for loss. White has tremendous strength, and he used that to manhandle blockers in his path.
He is the type player who could go to WCU and emerge as an All-American similar to the careers fellow Columbia County products Brian Bratton and Ryan Bowers had. Bratton and Bowers each went to small colleges (Bratton went to Furman and Bowers to Presbyterian), however, they both went on to become college All-Americans. White has that potential. I guarantee he will give opposing offensive coordinators a few headaches this fall for the Panthers.
Banks getting bigger
Augusta Christian running back Thomas Banks really made a name for himself this summer. His recruiting profile grew and so did Banks himself. His hard work in the weight room is certainly paying off.
I recently saw Banks and was blown away by his body transformation. He has gotten bigger and that spells trouble for defenses in SCISA. Banks is listed at 5-10, 195 pounds. Last year that would have seemed like someone was padding his profile a bit, but after seeing him in person, I have no doubt those numbers are probably spot on.
Keep in mind he is coming off a junior season in which he ran for 1,432 yards and 15 touchdowns on just 168 carries. And he played second fiddle to the 2012 county player of the year, teammate Tyler Roberson. Banks also caught 21 passes and hauled in five TD receptions. Roberson is now at Tennessee-Chattanooga, which means Banks will likely see his workload increase considerably. I would not be surprised if Banks puts up over 2,000 yards in 2013.
He is also getting plenty of attention from college coaches. Over the summer, Banks attended the SPARQ Combine in Charlotte, N.C. There were more than 1,200 players from 14 states in attendance, but Banks managed to stand out. He was named to the All-Combine Team and was described as “a well-built runner that has all the tools” by one recruiting analyst covering the event.
Since then, he has posted even better numbers and now boasts a 40-yard dash time in the 4.5’s. He also benches 315 pounds, squats well over 400 pounds. To recruiters those numbers mean as much or more than 20 touchdowns he amassed a season ago.