The 18th-ranked Buccaneers earned a 15-1, 12-7 road sweep of Region XIV South Zone foe Coastal Bend College on Sunday, continuing a remarkable offensive stretch that has Blinn rolling.
Since Feb. 27, the Bucs have scored at least 11 runs in nine different games – all victories – and have ammassed 11 or more runs in each tilt of its current five-game winning streak. In total, Blinn has 15 double-digit scoring efforts this spring and is averaging 9.4 runs per game.
“I don’t even know what to say,” first-year Blinn head coach Dusty Hart said with a laugh. “As a group, we’ve done a really good job of being unselfish. We’re waiting until we get a good pitch to hit, and if one guy doesn’t get that pitch, the next guy comes up and gets his.”
During a three-game series sweep of the Cougars, Blinn (23-7, 11-3 South Zone) exemplified plate patience and discipline to the tune of 29 walks, including 21 on Sunday in Beeville, Texas. The Bucs outscored Coastal Bend 40-11 in the series and finished with 34 hits.
Blinn is now 6-3 in region road tilts.
“Any time you get two conference wins on the road, it’s a good day,” Hart said. “It’s always harder to get Ws in someone else’s home park. You never know what’s going to happen when you go on the road. I thought we did a really good job of grabbing momentum early and we never let go of it.”
In game one, Blinn hit the ground running with a five-run first inning. An RBI double from freshman Tanner Reaves scored freshman Brandon Bishop to make it 1-0. Freshman Kash Durkin added an RBI groundout, freshman Tony Vernars slapped a two-run single, and sophomore Ryan Scott stole home to make it 5-0.
In the fourth, freshman Marshall Lipsey and Bishop smacked back-to-back solo home runs to make it 7-1.
The Bucs later pushed eight runs across in the sixth. Durkin sent a two-run homer to center field as part of the sixth-inning outburst.
(Pictured: Blinn’s Tanner Reaves, left, and Jake Kolkhorst)
Blinn tallied 11 hits, led by a three-hit ballgame for Reaves. He doubled twice, drove in two runs, and scored twice. Freshman Jake Kolkhorst finished with two hits – including a double – to go with two RBIs and two runs. Bishop, Vernars, and sophomore Ian Collier each tallied two RBIs a piece. Lipsey scored four runs and walked four times.
“It always starts with keeping good at bats going,” Hart explained. “Guys aren’t trying to force the action, and we’re making the other team throw strikes. The guys really don’t care who gets the credit, they’re just trying to get the next guy to the plate.”
Sophomore Victor Loa improved to 3-0 on the year following an impressive five-inning start. He allowed an earned run on three hits with nine strikeouts and three walks. Freshman Cody Pfeffer got three outs in the sixth, including a pair of strikeouts to force the run-rule.
In game two, Blinn broke up a 4-4 tie with a solo home run from Scott in the top of the fifth. Reaves made it 6-4 when he scored Lipsey on a sacrifice fly in the sixth. In the eighth, Collier scored Bishop with a single, Vernars drove in Reaves with a base hit, and Scott doubled in Collier and Reaves before Kolkhorst made it 11-4 with a run-scoring single.
Bishop doubled home Lipsey for a 12-4 cushion in the ninth. The Cougars scored three runs in the ninth.
The Bucs finished with 14 hits, led by a 3-for-5 effort for Vernars. He drove in two runs and scored once while also drawing a walk. Scott went 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs and two runs. Lipsey, Bishop, Collier, and Kolkhorst each finished with two hits apiece. Collier had three RBIs.
On the mound, freshman Bryson Dudley jumped to 5-0 on the year following six innings of work. He allowed four runs (one earned) on three hits with five punchouts and four walks. Freshman reliever Hunter Bond worked the seventh and eighth and struck out six Cougars while surrendering two hits. Sophomore Sam Crain pitched the ninth and ended the game on a groundout to second.
“I thought our guys threw really well,” Hart said. “That was a small park we played in and the wind was blowing out. Making yourself pitch to contact in that environment isn’t always an easy thing to do, but we went right after guys. We pretty much kept them at bay for the entire day and didn’t let them breathe.”
The Bucs continue their season with a four-game South Zone series against Galveston College beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21, in Galveston, Texas.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.