The Blinn College baseball team cracked the 20-win threshold with a pair of victories in an impromptu doubleheader Wednesday at Leroy Dreyer Field.
The Buccaneers were originally scheduled to face Coastal Bend College in the opener of a three-game Region XIV South Zone series, but shuffled their schedule to include a tilt with South Suburban College, which was set for Thursday. Blinn responded to the shake up with a 13-3, five-inning win over Coastal Bend before rallying out of an eight-run deficit to defeat South Suburban 13-9 in the finale.
“Those were definitely two good wins,” Bucs head coach Dusty Hart said. “Any time you get a conference win and a conference run-rule win to open a series; it doesn’t get any more ideal than that. Then we came out and rallied in the second game; so, it was a good day.”
Blinn improved to 21-7 overall and 9-3 overall, and made it three consecutive games in which it scored 11 or more runs.
The Bucs made a winner out of freshman starting pitcher Shane Connell in the opener, rallying for one run in the home half of the first and four more in the second to overcome a 2-0 hole.
After Connell gave up a pair of solo home runs in Coastal Bend’s first at bat, he settled in to toss five innings of eight-hit ball. He allowed three earned runs with a walk and six strikeouts.
“Whenever you have a rough first inning but your offense comes back and scores runs for you right away, it just gives you one job,” Connell said. “You just have to settle in, put up zeroes, and give your team a chance to come back. We got the win, and that’s all that really matters.”
Freshman pitcher Blane Zeplin struck out three Cougars in the ninth to seal it.
The Bucs did a majority of their damage early with walks and Coastal Bend errors, at one point leading 7-2 despite having just one hit. That hit was a big one, however, a grand slam for freshman Marshall Lipsey that put hosts up 5-1 in the second.
Freshman Tanner Reaves, who recently committed to Louisiana State University, also homered for Blinn, a two-run shot in the fourth.
The Bucs finished with nine hits, including two for Lipsey and freshman Jake Kolkhorst. Sophomore Cam Wheeler and freshman Brandon Bishop both doubled.
The game ended in the bottom of the fifth when Kolkhorst slapped a two-run single to right field that scored freshman Kash Durkin and Wheeler.
In game two, South Suburban raced out to an 8-0 lead with five runs in the first inning and three in the second.
Blinn got going in the bottom of the second on a three-run home run from freshman Christian Dunn and an RBI single from Lipsey to make it 8-4. Sophomore Tate Bethel made it 8-5 with a solo shot in the fourth.
Durkin clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth to pull Blinn within one.
In the seventh, a bases loaded balk pushed Lipsey home to tie the game before Durkin singled to right field to plate Bishop and Reaves for the lead.
“In the back of our heads, I think we never really feel concerned,” Hart added. “I knew we weren’t going to quit. These guys are finally learning how to not play to the scoreboard and keep playing the game the right way.”
Bethel added an RBI groundout in the inning and freshman Matt Whitting doubled in Wheeler for a 12-8 advantage.
South Suburban scored in the top of the eighth, but an error sent Lipsey to the plate in the bottom of the frame to cap the scoring.
Blinn’s 13-hit attack was helped by two-hit performances for Dunn, Lipsey, and Durkin. Durkin drove in four runs.
On the mound, the Bulldogs chased freshman starting pitcher Jake Kolkhorst before an out was recorded in the first inning. Freshman relievers Tyler Bogusz, Keller Thompson, Nick Anello, and Tristan Duke combined to close out the game.
“Our relief pitchers came in and dominated for us,” said Hart. “You really have to tip your hat to those guys just as much as the offense. They pitched to contact and that’s what you want. You want your pitchers to get the defense involved.”
Anello earned the win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings of work. He struck out five without a walk.
Up next, the Bucs will conclude their region series with the Coastal Bend with a doubleheader scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, in Beeville, Texas.