Needing at least one victory in a Region XIV South doubleheader against Galveston College to keep its region tournament hopes alive, Blinn bypassed any potential drama and captured both ballgames at Hohlt Park on Monday in Brenham.
Behind two complete-game pitching efforts from Chloee Mason, Blinn earned a 10-9 win in the opener before rallying for a 6-5 walk-off victory in the finale.
The Buccaneers are now 20-29 overall but improved to 13-11 in the South zone standings, currently good for the third seed in their quadrant. Blinn has a half-game lead over Coastal Bend College (12-11 South zone), which sits in fourth place, and its two wins over Galveston (10-11 South) currently leaves the Whitecaps on the outside looking in.
Galveston faces South lead San Jacinto College-South in a doubleheader later this week and will also face Coastal Bend once to finish its own region slate, and Blinn could finish with either the third or fourth seed in the South depending on those results. Should the Bucs and Galveston finish tied, Blinn owns the tiebreaker by virtue of a 3-1 record against the Whitecaps this season.
Four teams from the South zone will face four teams from the East in the Region XIV Tournament later this month.
“We showed a whole new attitude to get after it in a couple of big spots today,” Blinn head coach Rick Church said after the Bucs’ sweep on Monday. “It was good to see us break out the way we did because it was exactly what we had to do, or we were going home for good.”
Blinn’s big day was fueled by a pair of workhorse pitching performances from Chloee Mason. The right-hander threw two complete games and earned her 11th and 12th victories of the season.
“Well, to begin with, it was a gutsy day for Chloee Mason,” Blinn head coach Rick Church said of his pitcher’s 14-inning day. “That’s what stands out to me; the one who worked the most today was Chloee.”
(Pictured: Blinn College’s Chloee Mason pitches against Galveston College)
Mason tossed a total of 237 pitches – 145 for strikes – while leading a Buccaneer offense which pounded out 20 base hits against the Whitecaps.
“There was a lot of pressure going into today, but after getting that first win, I was just able to lock in and focus,” Mason said. “I was focused on hitting my spots, and after that first game, yeah, you’re pretty tired, but you just get through it mentally and rely on your offense to help you out a little bit.”
The Buccaneer lineup did its part, starting with a 12-hit performance in game one.
Galveston led 3-1 early, but Blinn tallied four runs in the home half of the third to jump ahead for good.
The Bucs added three more in the fourth, and Emily Kristynik‘s 11th homer of the year – a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth, closed out the scoring for Blinn.
The Whitecaps rallied with four runs in the seventh, but with a runner on second, Mason induced a flyout and a groundout to seal the win.
Teagan Whitley went 4 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, Kristynik had three hits and two RBI, and Chandler Talbot, Kayla Wallace, and Keely Castillo also drove in runs. Castillo doubled and Wallace tripled for the Bucs.
In game two, Blinn rallied out of a 5-1 hole in the sixth before setting the table for Talbot’s walk-off single in the seventh.
Facing a four-run deficit in the sixth, Wallace drew a bases loaded walk to score Whitley before Castillo doubled to left to plate Madeline Stephenson, Talbot, and Wallace for a 5-5 tie.
The Bucs got right back to work in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs behind a Kristynik walk, a Whitley single, and a Natilee Reed base hit. Two outs later, Talbot sent the first pitch she saw into center field for an RBI single to win it.
“My adrenaline was pumping, but I actually think my nerves worked out in my favor,” Talbot said of her final at bat of the day. “I had to be completely locked in and focused, and my plan was just to square up the ball and put a solid hit on it and put it somewhere that it would fall in, and I did.”
Talbot finished with three hits, two runs scored, and the winning RBI. Whitley finished with two more hits, and Castillo had three RBI.
Mason allowed six hits and two earned runs with two strikeouts and two walks for her second straight win.
“I was just happy that my offense pulled through for me there at the end,” Mason added. “We were really just playing with the mindset of ‘What do we have to lose,’ and we started playing for fun and for each other. Once we flipped that switch, we just became focused and worked hard to win.”
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.