The Buccaneers (45-14) slip into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament, where they will need to win up to three ballgames to bring home a national championship. Blinn will take on 10th-ranked and sixth-seeded Gaston College in a first-round rematch at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at Sam Suplizio Field. The Bucs defeated Gaston 9-3 last Sunday.
Tuesday’s setback brought to an end Blinn’s 11-game winning streak and put the Bucs on the brink of elimination in their first World Series appearance since 2014.
“Wabash is a really good baseball team,” first-year Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said. “They beat us in pretty much every phase of the game … offense, defense, pitching, baserunning. There was a lack of execution on our end all the way around.”
(Pictured: Blinn’s Tanner Reaves trots toward home plate after hitting a home run against Wabash Valley in the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series on May 30)
The night started off promising for Blinn after freshman Tanner Reaves blasted a two-out solo home run in the top of the first inning – his 19th of the season – to open the scoring.
The Warriors would answer immediately in the home half of the frame with four runs off Buccaneer starter and hard-throwing freshman Kaden Dydalewicz.
After a scoreless second inning for both teams, Blinn tied the game in the top of the third. One-out singles from freshmen Marshall Lipsey and Brandon Bishop brought Reaves back to the plate, who sent a line-drive RBI double to left field to make it 4-2. Sophomore Ian Collier plated Bishop with an RBI groundout, and Reaves made it a 4-4 contest when he scored on a passed ball.
Wabash Valley erased the tie in the bottom of the third with a two-run home run, and Blinn never came closer than two runs the rest of the way.
“They got us in spots where it was hard to beat them,” Hart said of the Warriors. “We threw two guys with really good stuff and they were able to get to us.”
The Bucs tallied seven hits, led by a three-hit, three-RBI day for Reaves.
(Pictured: Blinn’s Kaden Dydalewicz delivers against a Wabash Valley hitter during the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series on May 30)
Dydalewicz suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 7-1 on the year following 2 1/3 innings of work. He allowed seven runs (earned) on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout. Freshmen relief pitchers Cody Pfeffer, Tyler Bogusz, and Carson McKinney worked the final 3 1/3 frames.
The Warriors tallied six runs in the bottom of the sixth and scored the game-winning run on a defensive error.
The winner of the Blinn-Gaston matchup will face either fifth-ranked and fourth-seeded Weatherford or Wabash Valley at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 1.
(Pictured: Blinn head coach Dusty Hart surveys the field during his team’s NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series game against Wabash Valley on May 30)
Hart, who previously played and coached in the World Series as a player, assistant coach, and head coach at Grayson College, while also winning the 2008 national championship as head coach of the Vikings, said Blinn’s season will continue if the Buccaneers can show resiliency beginning Wednesday.
“You just have to have heart,” the coach explained. “All that matters is that they show up (Wednesday) and play hard. You have to bounce back – that’s the difference between good and great. Great players have short-term memories and bounce back. You’re going to see what we’re made out of Wednesday.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 43 NJCAA national championships since 1987.