The Blinn College baseball team settled for a doubleheader split with No. 20 Wharton County Junior College on Sunday, but ultimately won its four-game series with the Pioneers.

The Buccaneers fell to Wharton County 5-3 in Sunday’s opener before prevailing 2-1 to close out the Region XIV South series with three victories.

“It was definitely a good job on our end to come back after what wasn’t an ideal situation in the first game,” Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said. “It speaks to the toughness of this group because we wanted to come back and take the series and we did.”

The twin bill split allowed the Bucs to keep pace with San Jacinto College-North in the South, as both teams currently sit in first place with identical 10-4 records. Blinn is 18-12 overall.

“We kept ourselves in contention in the conference and that’s really what matters most right now,” Hart added.

In game one of the two-game slate, Wharton used a three-run sixth inning to rally past Blinn.

Sophomore Brayden Sprencel put the Bucs up 3-2 with an RBI single in the top of the fifth before the Pioneers staged their game-winning comeback.

Blinn was the subject of some tough luck on a windy day at the ballpark as several hard-hit balls resulted in fly outs, many of which left runners on base.

The Bucs’ misfortunes allowed Wharton ace starting pitcher Brian Panneton to weather Blinn’s 13-hit onslaught. Panneton tossed a complete game to earn the win.

Sophomore Marshall Lipsey homered and doubled for the Bucs, while sophomore Coy DeFury added two singles. Sophomore Tanner Reaves doubled.

On the mound for Blinn was freshman Lucas Davenport, who settled for a no-decision following a quality start. He was charged with three earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Sophomore Bryson Dudley was the pitcher of record for the Bucs after he surrendered two earned runs on one hit and a walk. He struck out one.

In game two, sophomore pitcher Brendan Sweeney and a pair of Blinn relievers carried the Bucs to the series win.

Sweeney hurled seven sparkling frames in which he allowed an unearned run on four hits. He fanned six Pioneers and walked two. Sophomore relief pitchers Cody Pfeffer and Ben Bosse combined for two innings of scoreless relief, with Bosse recording the final two outs of the game to earn the save.

“I thought Sweeney stepped up big time for us in the second game and really put us on his back,” Hart said. “Then Pfeffer and Bosse came in and threw strikes in some pretty big pressure-packed moments. To hold a one-run lead for six outs on the road is a big deal for those two kids.”

Wharton led 1-0 early, but Blinn scored the only two runs it would need in the top of the third inning.

Sophomore Connor McGinnis singled in DeFury and freshman Ethan Gonzalez on a ground ball to center field to conclude the scoring.

Sophomore Tony Vernars paced the Bucs with two hits and freshman Caden Ferraro had a double.

Blinn’s season continues with a three-game Region XIV South set against Alvin Community College. The series opens at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, in Alvin, Texas. 

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 45 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

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