A wild opener saw the Buccaneers fall to Odessa College 21-18 in a nine-inning slugfest before Blinn held on to beat Tyler Junior College 7-5 in the nightcap.

The Bucs are now 7-3 on the season.

Blinn’s day began with a you-had-to-be-there-to-see-it tilt against the Wranglers. Odessa poured on the offense through five innings to take a 13-6 lead before Blinn rallied for a four-spot in the seventh and six runs in the eighth. However, a 16-13 lead wasn’t enough for the Bucs, as the Wranglers posted eighth runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead for good.

Blinn scored two runs in the bottom of the inning but couldn’t finish the rally.

The game began at 10 a.m. and lasted almost six hours.

“I thought we weren’t very tough to start the day,” Bucs head coach Dusty Hart said. “We had a 6:45 a.m. bus ride and I think we let that be an excuse. We weren’t very tough on the mound at all, but we showed a lot of heart in the middle innings. There are a lot of games where you go down 6-0 and you just roll over, get run-ruled, and then go home. We didn’t do that and I was really proud of our guys for fighting back.”

Blinn finished with 15 hits and drew 14 walks.

Freshman Tanner Reaves had an outstanding day with four hits, three runs scored, and a robust eight runs batted in. He doubled twice and smacked a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth frame. 

Freshmen Luke Smith and Kash Durkin also doubled, as did sophomore Cam Wheeler. Durkin had three hits and an RBI. Wheeler cleared the bases with his double and finished with three RBI and a run scored. Freshman Marshall Lipsey had a three-run home run in the bottom of the second. He walked three times and scored four runs. Smith and sophomore Ryan Scott had two hits.

Blinn ended its day with a win over Tyler.

After falling behind 2-0 in the bottom of the first, the Bucs got going in the top of the second with a solo homer from Scott. Blinn took the lead for good in the top of the third after Smith singled, freshman Matt Whitting was hit by a pitch, and Kipsey tripled to drive in both baserunners for a 3-2 edge. Freshman Brandon Bishop then plated Lipsey with a single to make it 4-2.

The Apaches got within a run in the bottom of the fourth.

In the seventh, Reaves singled to score Lipsey, who singled earlier in the frame, to make it 5-3. Sophomore Ian Collier smacked a two-run double in the eighth for a 7-3 cushion. 

Tyler scored twice in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run on second with two outs, but freshman pitcher Hunter Bond struck out the last Apache he faced to close out the win.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how we responded in that second game,” Hart said. “That was the toughest way to lose a game in the opener; we had a long day; and it was a good, hard-fought win against a really good team. I was happy with how we handled the adversity and came back and won the game. It didn’t matter how we won that one, we just needed to figure out a way to win and we did.”

Blinn finished with 12 hits, led by a three-hit, two-RBI effort from Lipsey. Bishop, Reaves, Scott, and Smith each had two hits apiece.

“Our hitters are definitely buying into what we’re preaching as far as at bats go,” Hart said. “It’s simple; we tell them to take the bad pitches and swing at the good ones. These guys are listening.”

On the mound, freshman Hunter Bond continued his stellar start to his collegiate career with five strong innings of relief. He earned the win after allowing two earned runs on four hits with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

Freshman Blane Zeplin provided the Bucs a solid start on the mound. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits. He fanned seven and walked four.

“I thought Zeplin gave us a chance and kept us in the game,” Hart said. “We were definitely happy with his effort. Bond has had an unbelievable start to the year. He competes his tail off and he’s not afraid of the big moment. And that’s what you’re looking for in every player.”

Bond has a 1.93 earned run average in 9 1/3 innings of relief so far this season to go with 17 strikeouts.

Blinn continues its season with a road tilt at Angelina College at 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in Lufkin, Texas.

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