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Dec. 11, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Bradley Blanks, a two-year letterwinner with the USC Upstate baseball program, has signed a contract with the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League, one of the nation's premier independent baseball leagues, the franchise announced on Tuesday.
"We're very happy Bradley is getting this opportunity," Upstate head coach Matt Fincher said. "He has worked heard to reach this stage in his career and I know he will take advantage of it. He did a great job for us and I am sure he will do the same for Evansville."
Blanks (Fort Mill, S.C./Blue Ridge C.C.) joins three other Spartans in pro baseball, along with Chris Nowak (2002-04, with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays AA-affiliate Montgomery), Brandon Williams (2003-06, with the Pittsburgh Pirates A-affiliate State College) and Bret Story (2006-07, with the Texas Rangers Rookie-affiliate in the Arizona League).
Blanks was one of the most accomplished closers in Spartan history, as the 6-4, 180-pound right-hander set a school record for saves in his first year in the program, shutting the door on 12 opponents. As a junior, Blanks finished the year with a 3-2 record and a 4.06 ERA, striking out 35 and walking just 16 in 44 1/3 innings. He held opponents scoreless in 22 of 29 outings during the season.
"I was pretty excited about it when I got the contract in the mail," Blanks said. "I had a two-day tryout with the Phillies and went down to Florida. They talked to me after the tryout and said they would contact some independent league teams and see what happened. I'm pretty excited about it. It's a chance to play baseball and maybe move up to the next level."
A transfer from Blue Ridge Community College, Blanks finished his career at Upstate by showing off his versatility, heading into the season as a closer and moving to the starting rotation by the end of the year, finishing the year 2-4 with a save and a 6.23 ERA. In his first career start against North Georgia on March 3, Blanks threw six innings of four-hit, shutout baseball, walking one and striking out four. In his 13 relief appearances, Blanks posted a 5.00 ERA.
The Spartans, under 11th-year head coach Matt Fincher, are set to move to Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2008 after finishing the 2007 season with a 34-25 record and a 15-15 mark in the Division II Peach Belt Conference. The team held a national ranking for much of the season, reaching as high as 18th. Fincher has led the baseball program to three straight 30-win seasons.