It wasn’t going to take a no-hitter for Shane Connell to lead the No. 9 Blinn College baseball team to the Region XIV Super Regional.

The sophomore pitcher almost threw one anyway.

Connell tossed 4 2/3 hitless innings before giving up a single in the fifth, but still ultimately shut the door on Galveston College to help the Buccaneers earn a dominant 11-0 run-rule victory and the Region XIV South Regional Tournament championship Sunday at Leroy Dreyer Field in Brenham, Texas. 

Blinn (40-15) now advances to the Region XIV Super Regional, where it will face the winner of the Region XIV North Regional Tournament – either Navarro College or San Jacinto College-North – in a best-of-three series.

Shane Connell 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn sophomore pitcher Shane Connell fires a pitch during a game against Galveston on May 12, 2024)

“I knew what was going on heading into that fifth inning and yeah, it would have been nice to get the no-no,” Connell said. “but the goal at the end of the day was to just come out here and give my team a chance to win and that’s what I did.”

A loss for either the Bucs or Whitecaps would have spelled the end of their season after Galveston defeated Blinn on Saturday to force Sunday’s winner-take-all matchup. Connell, who improved to 4-0 on the year, rescued the Bucs for the second time in his two-year run at Blinn. In 2023, the right-hander pitched a three-hit shutout to lead his team to victory in an elimination game during the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series.

Connell struck out six and walked five on 88 pitches.

“Shane is the guy I want on the mound when the lights come on,” sophomore outfielder Tanner Reaves said. “When the lights are bright, that guy comes through every single time.”

Coy DeFury 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn sophomore Coy DeFury is greeted by his teammates after scoring a run against Galveston on May 12, 2024)

Reaves was equally effective for the Bucs, going 3 for 3 out of the leadoff spot with a walk, two doubles, and four RBIs. 

Sophomore Coy DeFury also went 3 for 3 with a double while driving in a pair.

After Reaves doubled to lead off the first inning, sophomore Cade Climie drove him in with a single.

In the second inning, freshman Ethan Gonzalez slapped an RBI single to center field, Reaves hit a two-run double, and sophomore Connor McGinnis made it 5-0 with a sacrifice fly.

A DeFury RBI double, a run-scoring single from sophomore Tony Vernars, and Reaves’ RBI single made it 8-0.

“I was excited going into the game just to see how our guys were going to respond,” Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said. “I don’t know that we could have played any better, and from a coaching standpoint, you love to see it. Everybody was locked in inside the dugout from the very first pitch, and it just makes your heart happy to see your guys respond.”

Sophomore Brandon Bishop and DeFury singled in two more runs in the fourth before Reaves drew a bases loaded walk to cap the scoring. 

Tanner Reaves 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn sophomore Tanner Reaves hits a double against Galveston on May 12, 2024)

Blinn finished with 12 hits, including at least one for eight different hitters.

“Tonight, it came down to who wanted it more,” Reaves added. “We had a tough offensive day on Saturday and we wanted to come out and get on top of Galveston early and put them away.”

Blinn reached the 40-win mark for the second consecutive year and will look to tack on a couple more during the super regional. Navarro and San Jacinto-North wrap up the North Regional on Monday, and the super regional series will kick off Thursday, May 16, at Leroy Dreyer Field. The Bucs will look to advance to the Junior College World Series in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1964-65.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 47 NJCAA national championships since 1987. 

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