Colbaugh has record-breaking year

By Wes Holtsclaw

   If you've been to the American Little League field when the regular season champion Citizens Bank squad was playing, you may have seen the coming of the next big thing of Carter County baseball.
   During the little league games, kids will often rush and crowd around the outfield fence when a certain young man takes the plate.
   "It feels good when they run out there," the player said. "I don't really notice it that much when I'm up, but it's a cool thing to see."
   He always kicks the bat with his cleats and gives his opposing pitcher a look that they wouldn't soon forget.
   They call him Little Mac, but Adam Colbaugh's similarities to former Major League slugger Mark McGwire are almost uncountable.
   From the time he was dominating all-stars at the age of nine to his final year on the little league diamond, everybody who has saw him play has admitted they've seen the making of something special.
   "I don't know where that came from," Colbaugh said of his nickname. "When I was 10 years old in the tournaments, I hit the ball pretty well and the other kids started calling me that and it's stuck."
   "Some people say that I look like him."
   Colbaugh looks like McGwire, and his swing isn't too far off, either.
   The 12-year old recently broke the American Little League regular-season home run record with 18 home runs.
   During the opening round of the league tournament, Colbaugh sparked his team with three home runs in a 19-5 win over Inland Container to bring his total to 21.
   But the rest of the Citizens Bank squad isn't too shabby either, only losing three games during the season.
   "We've done pretty well -- we've lost a couple of games and we battled back and won," Colbaugh said.
   "Adam's been a big key to a lot of the tough games we've had," said Citizens Bank coach Steve Birchfield. "A lot of the other young players have stepped up as well and became a total team. It's been an honor to manage a group like this."
   "They play hard and field the ball well," the coach said. "We've had a good season and taken our bumps with three losses, but we bounced back and worked. That's what made us champions."
   Having a player like Colbaugh didn't hurt, either.
   Colbaugh accounted for a .673 batting average the season with 35 hits, 54 RBIs, 43 runs, 22 walks and four bases on errors.
   He's equally as talented on the mound, where he's thrown for 13 strikeouts or more each time he's been on the mound, adding up to 120 strikeouts in eight games. He's tossed a lot of one-hitters and has had a couple of no-hit outings for his team's cause.
   A lot of Colbaugh's success has been due to his participation in fall baseball and his first season on the Unaka middle school squad.
   "It helps out when you play fall ball," Colbaugh said. "They teach you a lot of stuff and it just makes you better in the spring."
   With the tournament's closing out this week, all-star baseball will begin shortly thereafter, and with Little Mac at the helm, the American Little League squad will be ready to shoot for another district crown.